Ofcom forces Openreach to give better network access to rivals

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Virgin Media, TalkTalk and CityFibre are among the firms to benefit

Ofcom has forced BT’s infrastructure arm Openreach to give more access to rival network builders under new proposed rules, to spur faster rollout of high speed cables.

Currently rivals can access Openreach telegraph poles and underground tunnels to lay fibre networks for residential and small business customer.

Within the new plans, Openreach will have to be flexible with firms such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cityfibre. To allow them to serve larger businesses with high speed internet of up to 37Mbps.

Between the aforementioned provider, they are using around 12,000 Openreach telegraph poles and 2,500 km of underground duct.

Virgin Media alone recently connected more than 2,000 homes and businesses in a village in Wales using Ofcom’s duct access rules.

“Our measures are designed to support the UK’s digital future by providing investment certainty for continued competitive investment in fibre and 5G networks,” said Ofcom’s competition group director Jonathan Oxley.

“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.”

An Openreach spokesperson added: “Our ducts and poles have been open to other companies since 2011, and we recognise that unrestricted access is a natural next step so we had volunteered to get on with that, ahead of Ofcom’s original schedule,” they said.

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