Scotland’s Infrastructure Leaders Welcome New Ofcom Ruling
New rules allowing multiple communications companies to access Openreach infrastructure could be good news for Scotland’s broadband.
New proposals from Ofcom to encourage greater investment in ultrafast full-fibre, or fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) networks, have been welcomed by Scottish telecoms leaders.
The regulator claims its proposals will cut the cost of full-fibre broadband networks by up to 50% and help the industry hit its target of connecting approximately 20% of UK premises (the current figure stands at around 3%) to FTTP broadband by 2020.
The proposals demand infrastructure incumbent Openreach to open its telegraph poles and underground ducts to rival providers, makng it faster and simpler for FTTP to be rolled out.
Any Remedies Welcome
CityFibre, the company which is creating full-fibre ‘Gigabit Cities’ in locations such as Aberdeen, told DIGIT: “CityFibre welcomes any remedies that accelerate the deployment of full-fibre infrastructure by alternative providers.
“Reducing restrictions on duct and pole access (DPA) and making it more user friendly is a positive step to support this. We are undertaking extensive trials of DPA and believe it to be a valuable deployment option – but it is just part of the solution.
“To ensure the UK can secure a full-fibre future, companies like CityFibre will need to continue to invest in our own physical network infrastructure at pace. In accordance with its strategic review last year, Ofcom must ensure that all its regulation must support the business case for private investment and infrastructure competition.”
Opening Up Access
Ricky Nicol, the CEO of Commsworld, Scotland’s largest independent telecoms company, said, “We warmly welcome the measures to make Openreach’s duct and pole networks more accessible by other providers.
“Ofcom has a very difficult job in making sure there’s a balance between supporting the investment case for new infrastructure to be built alongside Openreach’s, but at the same time providing practical remedies to ensure consumers and businesses are able to get full fibre sooner rather than later.
“We see Duct and Pole access as an important mechanism to allow other providers to build to places that are otherwise very difficult or expensive.
“This is yet another tool in the toolbox that Commsworld and its suppliers can use to better connect its customers quickly and efficiently”.
Reducing Time and Costs
Ofcom says opening up this existing infrastructure could immediately half the cost of laying fibre cables from £500 per home to £250, as well as reducing the time required to hours, rather than days.
The Ofcom proposals have now been submitted to the European Commission, ahead of a planned implementation in 2018.
Ofcom competition group director Jonathan Oxley, told Computer Weekly: “Full fibre meets the country’s future broadband needs, as demand for data soars.
“Ultrafast speeds will allow people to download entire films, or businesses to share huge files, almost instantly. Full-fibre will also underpin exciting technology like remote healthcare diagnostics, 5G mobile and connected devices.
“The measures we’ve set out today will support the growing number of companies that have already announced plans to build full-fibre networks, and open the way for even more ambitious investment around the UK.”