New Ofcom rules clear path for more full fibre developments

New Ofcom rules clear path for more full fibre developments

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Infrastructure providers looking to deliver full fibre connectivity around the UK could find it easier to build out their networks thanks to new rules recently announced by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator has published a series of draft rules that will aim to encourage competition in the market, including ensuring alternative providers have greater access to Openreach's telegraph poles and underground tunnels.

Openreach is already required to provide access to this infrastructure to firms looking to serve residential and small business customers, but the new proposals would extend this to firms serving large businesses, as well as companies laying high-speed lines that support mobile and broadband networks.

Ofcom said access to these ducts and poles can help cut the cost of developing a full fibre network by as much as half, and firms including Virgin Media, TalkTalk and CityFibre already use around 12,000 Openreach telegraph poles and 2,500km of underground duct to connect thousands of homes and businesses to fast, reliable connectivity.

The regulator noted how extending duct and pole access to business networks will allow companies to use Openreach’s infrastructure for all telecoms services, improving the business case for them to invest in cutting-edge, full fibre and 5G networks.

Jonathan Oxley, competition group director of Ofcom, said: "The amount of internet data used by people in the UK is expanding by around half every year. So, we’ll need faster, more reliable connections for our homes, offices and mobile networks.

"Our measures are designed to support the UK’s digital future by providing investment certainty for continued competitive investment in fibre and 5G networks across the country."

Ofcom noted more than half of premises in the UK are now able to access 'ultrafast' broadband services, defined by the regulator as offering download speeds of at least 300Mbps. Meanwhile, seven per cent of homes and businesses have access to full fibre, with Ofcom aiming to connect millions more properties in the coming months.

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