Ofcom Plans to Make BT's Openreach Network Available to Rivals -- Update

By Razak Musah Baba Features Dow Jones Newswires

The U.K.'s telecoms regulator set out plans Thursday to make BT PLC's (BT.A.LN) Openreach infrastructure network available to competitors, enabling them to build fiber broadband networks more cheaply.

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The Office of Communications, commonly know as Ofcom, said the plan would make it easier for competitors to access BT's existing telegraph poles, ducts and underground tunnels that carry telecoms cables.

Ofcom is proposing that other telecom providers should be able to lay fiber using BT's ducts and poles as easily as BT itself. It said the cost to BT for providing this access should be spread across all users.

The regulator is also calling for Openreach to repair faulty infrastructure and clear blocked tunnels where necessary for access.

In response, Jonathan Carter Senior Media Relations Manager, Openreach said: "Our ducts and poles have been open since 2011 and Ofcom recognises the big steps we've taken recently to encourage more companies to use them. As well as launching an online mapping tool, we've made the whole process more accessible, user-friendly, automated and self-service oriented.

"We recognise that further improvements might be needed over time, but the economics of network investment remain challenging. Investing in more full fibre and upgrading hot spots will be even harder if Ofcom force us to cover the upfront entry costs for other companies," Mr. Carter added.

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Ofcom said it expected to publish its final decisions in early 2018, with new rules taking effect on April 1 next year.

Write to Razak Musah Baba at razak.baba@wsj.com; Twitter: @Raztweet

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 09:49 ET (13:49 GMT)