BT will have to give other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) access to its fibre network, underground ducts and telegraph poles to help drive the deployment of superfast broadband after a ruling by Ofcom.
The regulator explained that it wants BT to offer a dedicated virtual link on its fibre lines to other ISPs on a wholesale basis, the price of which can be set by BT, to promote competition and ensure a monopoly isn't created.
BT said it has already been offering this service since January and in a statement it welcomed Ofcom's announcement for recognising it was offering an appropriate service.
"This statement is reassuring, in that Ofcom agrees we have been providing suitable unbundled access to our fibre, that our product provides others with substantial control and that it will be the most likely way fibre is delivered in the future," it said.
"That recognition, combined with us having pricing freedom for that product, provides much of the regulatory clarity and certainty that we have been seeking. "
Coincidentally, TalkTalk has today confirmed it will be using BT's fibre network to offer high-speed broadband services, the first major ISP to take advantage of the wholesale offer.
With regards to the underground ducts and telegraph poles, Ofcom explained it wants BT to offer access to this infrastructure to allow other ISPs to deploy their own hardware to help push broadband in areas where BT is not planning a fibre rollout.
Ofcom also wants BT to produce a report on the quality and capacity of this infrastructure, with a first draft report being made available by mid-January 2011.
BT said it was not surprised by Ofcom's formal requirement to provide access to ducts and poles, saying it has been willing to offer this for some time. It added that it is already working with communication providers to develop the draft report on the infrastructure.
Ofcom said the requirements it was making of BT were designed to help those across the UK ensure they could benefit from new superfast broadband networks.
It added that making ducts and poles available for broadband rollouts could offer those in remote areas the chance to potentially secure part-funding from the public sector – either the UK or the European Union – for deployments.
Last week, BT announced a £132m investment to bring superfast broadband to the entire county of Cornwall, with the EU promising to stump up £53.5m of the total investment.
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