While Openreach – the company that holds a monopoly over the main broadband and telephone infrastructure in the UK – has managed to dodge calls for it to break its affiliation with BT over fears that it is at odds with the spirit of competition law, the UK telcom regulatory body OFCOM has demanded that the self-appointed ‘guardians of the last mile’ reduce the wholesale prices it charges businesses and ISPs to use its network, and improve the speed at which it installs leased lines after failing to meet its own targets more often than not.
In a statement released today (22nd March), as part of its investigation into the efficacy of Openreach, OFCOM accuses BT of taking “too long” to deliver services to business customers, and of charging too much for its sub-standard service.
“This means BT would have to give competitors physical access to its fibre-optic cables, allowing them to take direct control of the connection,” OFCOM’s Business Connectivity Market Review reads. “This service is often referred to as ‘dark fibre’, because the cables would not be ‘lit’ using BT’s electronic equipment. Instead, they would be ‘lit’ by the competitor installing its own equipment at either end of the optical fibre.”
“BT is already required to offer wholesale leased line products, which bundle the optical fibre and BT’s own network equipment, at regulated prices to competitors. BT would still be required to provide these services, but the new proposal would go further, allowing operators to use BT’s fibre-optic cables with their own equipment, rather than rely on BT’s equipment.”
“This should increase the opportunity for competitors to develop new high-capacity services for their customers,” the report adds.
The report calls for Openreach to complete 80% of leased line installations by its promised deadline by March 2017, raising to 90% in April 2018, and reduce its prices over the next three years.