Ofcom opens consultation on opening access to BT network

Ofcom has today opened a consultation period over plans to make it easier for competitors to access BT’s ultrafast broadband network.

Posted on 06 December 2016 - Connectivity
Tibus BY Tibus

It specifically relates to Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) to the Openreach network. In other words, allowing rival companies to use BT’s network of telegraph poles and ducts around the country more easily.

This follows hot on the heels of Ofcom’s announcement of a formal notification to require the legal separation of Openreach from BT.

The consultation seeks to establish what Openreach’s PIA product could be used for, how its processes should work and how charges could be set with a view to addressing concerns regarding barriers to investing in ultrafast broadband networks at scale and addressing any competition problems identified in the market.

Opening up the ultrafast broadband network would make life much easier for smaller ISPs, like Tibus, and their customers. We previously wrote about the impact of opening BT’s core network. In that case, the price of our own 1GB business internet service dropped form £7,000 per month in 2009 to £300-500 per month in 2015. We weren’t being greedy or chasing huge profits in 2009; that was simply the cost to us of operating in a market that wasn’t open to sufficient competition at the time. We were forced to pass those costs on to our customers. As soon as our costs dropped, we were able to bring prices right down.

The same is likely to be true if Ofcom’s latest plans go ahead. BT currently operates large swathes of the network with no or minimal competition due to the considerable advantage of their existing network. If we and other competitors can access this network more easily, that will open up the market and keep prices in check.

The consultation closes on January 31, 2017. If you wish to have your say, you can do so on the Ofcom website.