Ofcom opens consultation on duct and pole access remedies

Posted on 24/04/2017

Ofcom has published a consultation today as part of the Wholesale Local Access market review which proposes better access for CPs who wish to utilise BT’s Duct and Pole infrastructure to build their own fibre networks.

The key proposals of the document are:

Access to BT’s ducts and poles. A shift of Ofcom’s strategic focus from active to passive remedies and a proposal to enhance the effectiveness of the existing Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) remedy. This remedy requires BT to allow other telecoms providers to deploy their own networks in BT’s underground ducts and chambers or overhead on its telegraph poles. This network access obligation includes a requirement for Openreach to make adjustments to the existing infrastructure so it is ‘ready for use’ – repairing faulty infrastructure and relieving congested sections where necessary.

Enabling greater flexibility in the use of ducts and poles. Ofcom proposes to relax the current PIA usage restriction to allow ‘mixed usage’: telecoms providers can deploy local access networks offering both broadband and non-broadband services provided the purpose of the network deployment is primarily the delivery of broadband services to consumers.

Access on equivalent terms to ensure a level playing field. Ofcom is proposing a ‘no undue discrimination’ condition on BT, requiring strict equivalence in respect of all processes and sub-products that contribute to the supply and consumption of duct access, unless BT can demonstrate that a difference is justified. The condition would also mean equivalence in how costs associated with duct and pole access are recovered. Ofcom proposes to support these measures through careful, continual monitoring to ensure that they are effective.

Access to digital maps to support large-scale network planning. Ofcom proposes that telecoms providers should have integrated access to digital maps with Openreach’s duct and pole network records including detailed location information and the extent of spare capacity.

Processes to ensure efficient network deployment. Ofcom is proposing that BT should be required to publish a Reference Offer for PIA, setting out how operational processes (e.g. ordering PIA, clearing blocked ducts) will work, together with relevant terms and conditions including service level agreements and guarantees. The final stage involves connecting the customer, where BT’s poles have an important role to play. Ofcom proposes that BT should be required to ensure capacity for additional dropwires is available for telecoms providers to connect individual homes, with Openreach having operational flexibility to determine how best to provide that capacity.

Pricing to support competitive investment. Ofcom proposes to set a cap on PIA rental charges, using the current methodology as a starting point for our calculations. Ofcom will publish specific proposals in the summer. Ofcom also proposes to put in place specific pricing obligations for ancillary charges relating to build and enabling works, with the associated costs to be recovered from all users of the infrastructure, subject to appropriate limits

You can find the whole consultation, which closes on 15 June, here.

If you have any comments you would like us to submit on your behalf, please send them to me.

Thanks,

Cathy

cgerosa@fcs.org.uk

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