Telecoms regulator Ofcom has published new proposals designed to promote further investment in the infrastructure of the UK's broadband network.
Chief among the measures is a call for BT to open up its underground ducts and overhead telegraph poles to rival operators to allow them to provide high-speed services to their own customers.
However, Ofcom said that BT should be able to charge for this access in order to provide a "fair rate of return", and argued that market forces would ensure that the price is similar to that of the wider market.
Ofcom cited research conducted from June 2008 to the end of 2009 which showed that up to 50 per cent of ducts in some locations have room for new cables, while a second survey (PDF) published today of ducts closer to homes and businesses shows a similar proportion left unused.
BT explained in a statement that it is willing to open its ducts to other providers, but cast doubt on the success of such a measure.
"We have already said that we are willing to open our ducts, so the requirement we do so comes as no surprise. It is unlikely to be the 'silver bullet' to get fibre to the countryside, but all options should be explored," the firm said.
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