Faster and cheaper broadband could soon be a reality for many rural communities after Ofcom announced new proposals which could force BT Wholesale to lower the price it charges other ISPs to use its infrastructure.
The regulator is proposing price reductions of 10.75 per cent to 14.75 per cent below inflation for areas where BT is the sole provider of wholesale broadband, which is mainly in rural areas.
The aim is to reduce the price charged to end users for these services, and Ofcom said that around three million homes and businesses could benefit.
The watchdog added that the move could also improve broadband speeds by allowing ISPs to buy more capacity without increasing costs.
ADSL 2+ technology, which allows for faster speeds, will be exempt from the new price cuts, and should encourage BT to invest more heavily in the area, said Ofcom.
Unsurprisingly, ISPs welcomed the move. Clodagh Murphy, director of business ISP Eclipse Internet, described the announcement as positive news for the future of rural broadband, but warned that change will not happen overnight.
"With investment leading to greater speeds, businesses in these areas will be more efficient and will benefit from greater access to internet-based technologies. This, in turn, will help them and the local economy," she said.
"We have already started to see increased investment in infrastructure in rural areas; a good example is the current rollout of superfast fibre broadband in Cornwall. This is a promising start, but there is still a long way to go."
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