Ofcom: BT must share fiber, duct, and poles

OCTOBER 8, 2010 by Stephen Hardy -- Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulatory authority, has announced rulings designed to promote competition within the UK broadband market. Principal among them is a mandate that BT must share its broadband fiber links with competitors.

BT must offer fiber access through what Ofcom described as “a dedicated virtual link” through “virtual unbundling.” It also must offer access to its ducts and poles to competitors looking to deploy their own fiber, particularly in areas where BT has no such plans.

Ofcom said in a prepared statement that BT will be able to set prices for these new wholesale products at a level that “should promote investment by enabling them to make a fair rate of return reflecting commercial risk.” However, these rates also will be “subject to rules to prevent anti-competitive pricing,” Ofcom stated.

BT also must provide details regarding the available capacity and quality of ducts and poles. The carrier must provide a draft reference offer covering the ducts and poles by the middle of next January.

Ofcom also said it will continue to require BT to provide local loop unbundling of its copper infrastructure to competitors.

Matthew Howett, lead analyst at market research firm Ovum, described the rulings as “both pragmatic and predictable.” Said Howett, “It is a well designed framework which takes into account the network infrastructure being deployed by BT across the UK and should allow sufficient scope for alternative operators looking to invest to gain access to BT’s network.”


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