back to article Ofcom pulls plug on wholesale broadband regulation

Communications regulator Ofcom is ending regulation for the majority of UK wholesale broadband. Some 70 per cent of exchanges, about 10,000 premises, which have four or more providers of wholesale internet access will be freed from regulation. Areas with less than four providers such as Hull will continue to be regulated - BT …


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  1. jolly


    Anyone know how I find out which providers have their kit in my local exchange?

  2. Alex


    I'm fairly ignorant here but if "a spokeswoman for BT welcomed the changes" then I feel like I'm about to get hit by a train...

  3. Mike Crawshaw

    @ Jolly

    have a look at the SamKnows site:

    enter your postcode here and it will bring up your local exchange, including details of providers.


  4. Rabbi

    @Jolly - LLU Providers

    Have a look at

    3 clicks and I now know that there are 8 LLU operators listed at my exchange, whilst the average for the 149 exchanges in the London area is 10.48.

  5. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    The shlooping sound in the background...

    is the sound of the shit hitting the fan.

    This'll be a disaster for consumers in the (not too) long run, I think.

  6. alistair millington
    Thumb Down

    Bt have had a regulator removed

    That can only mean bad things... competition is lacking in the energy market and see where that is.

    So now Ofcom (which was shite anyway) is stepping out the loop and the monopoly is free to rule.

  7. Steve

    The first analogy that springs to mind... making racketeering legal once there are more than 5 mafia families in your local area.

  8. Steven
    Paris Hilton

    What do you think?

    "Whether price cuts are passed onto consumers will of course be the decision of retail broadband providers".

    Take the profits for themselves or pass them to the masses...gee I wonder what they'll do...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @Alex -Uncertainty

    up until now BT has had to sell (wholesale) broadband at a fixed (inflated) price. Now they can sell it as cheap as they want, like the unbundlers.

    Prior to this regulation was designed to make unbundling a cheaper option because those operators that did it didn't have to pay the high BT for broadband and sell it on.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    doesnt help the 52%+ of the cabled uk though does it

    thats all well and fine but it doesnt help the 52%+ of the cabled uk though does it.

    we also need to find a way to open up the cable network to 3d partys that can then supply both good STB's, PC cable cards and wholesale BB in competition to the 3 way STM'ed and potential Phormed VM of the future.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    This country.

    Makes me want to set fire to exchanges.

  12. Martin
    Thumb Down

    If only.

    I have both BT and Kingston/Karoo available here.

    The former has zero LLU's in the local exchange and Krapoo.... well say no more.

  13. David Neil

    @ AC re. Cable

    Why the hell should OFCOM intervene to force a privately financed company open up its privately funded infrastructure to third parties?

    Are you seriously proposing the nationalisation of the cable industry?

  14. Adam Trickett

    Break BT up!

    Ofcom are gutless and have let monopolistic BT off the hook. ISPs are shrinking as they keep consolidating to a fewer and fewer larger inept companies.

    The last mile needs to be taken off BT and put in the hands of an infrastructure company that provides connectivity and not dial-tone or ADSL or whatever. They you should be able to buy ADSL and/or dial-tone of anyone.

  15. Tom Richardson


    I'm sorry but there's no way in hell that catch-up TV services have put bandwidth use up by 40-50% PER SUSCRIBER. No way.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    re: doesnt help the 52%+ of the cabled uk though does it

    Let me explain the difference

    BT Last Mile = paid for by me and probably your dad through taxes

    Virgin Media Last Mile = paid for by private money which is why the cable co's went into Chapter 11 and still have enormous debt mountains.

    What you are demanding is akin to demanding Vodafone open up their mobile network at a wholesale rate set by a regulator.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Sayonara BT

    Won't help here - we've just got our MAC code after BT throttled our business ADSL line due to 'excessive use'. They can't tell us how much we've used, what the limit is, what the speed restriction is or when it comes off. Nor are they able to offer us an unlimited package or the ability to buy a higher download limit. As an internet business this is obviously unacceptable to us so we're taking our cash elsewhere.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There's been no visible regulation, so generally there'll be no visible difference, except...

    If you're a broadband customer or potential customer not in an LLU/cable area, be afraid, be very afraid.

    The "non-LLU supplements" (eg O2's £10/month) were just the start of things.

    Now there's no regulation on BTwholesale prices, how long will it be before BTw's own pricing has huge differences [1] between cherry-picked areas (where the LLU folks are) and "in the sticks" (loosely) areas, where only BTwholesale have the broadband infrastructure in place.

    Must be nice to have that kind of friends in high places.

    [1] There are already smallish differences, but ISPs using BTwholesale currently choose to hide the geographic variation in price. At £10/month difference between cities and sticks they won't be willing to do that.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: @ AC re. Cable

    Because they're clearly abusing their monopoly.

    How else do you explain everyone on cable being dropped to 1/4 of their bandwidth after 30 minutes?

  20. John Macintyre

    @ Lies Lies Lies

    My dear naive friend, of course it must be true, the isp's who foot the bill say so, and they do not lie, they are mere innocent parties here.

    And of course, as they state, all that is due to the new BBC iPlayer, not increased downloads, bittorent, music/video online sales through iTunes etc, increased youtube usage etc etc

    How can you claim these innocent folks are lying to you? honestly. next you'll be saying the government spins everything and doesn't ever tell it's people the truth.


  21. Mark Land


    I switched to Zen internet as I pay a rolling one month contract for a fixed download limit. I can see an accurate up to date pie chart of my monthly usage, get alert emails if i am near my limit and pay for extra bandiwth in chunks. If I exceed the limit I get redirected to an online top up screen. It is never limited by "excessive use", as I know exactly how much use I have per month. The speed is excellent and the support is excellent, friendly and quick by a person in the UK.

    Compared to my previous Tiscali which operated in the way that "Sayonara BT" describes, this is heaven.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Sums It Up

    "A spokeswoman for BT welcomed the changes, and said it could mean better deals..."

    Sums it up really. As soon as any salesperson mentions the word 'deal' to me I point them straight to the door.

    Shears are coming out and guess who intends to give who a fleecing.

    Ofcom should be disbanded forthwith - haul their snouts out of the public purse, give them a good 'unlimited' pig-whipping (50 lashes a piece, we all know 'unlimited' means nothing nowadays) and send them on their way.

    P.S. Nationalisation of broadband sounds a good way to go to me. That an any government anyway allows basic survival level utilities to rest in control of private business (and profit) is the insanity of our times. But broadband isn't a survival level utility? Just wait.

  23. Jack Garnham

    @ Adam Trickett

    Say hello to last year...

    Haven't you noticed all the "OpenReach" vans driving around recently? Although still a BT group company, they are legally bound to treat every company (including BT Wholesale) the same under the Telecomms Strategic Review guidelines. They own the copper infrastructure and will rent it to whichever company wants it at the same rate to connect consumers to whichever service provider they require, where available.

  24. Chad H.

    @ ac re cable

    vm don't have a monopoly. If you don't like their cable service, call BT. They'll be more than happy to sell you broadband.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    We need regulation for the LLU companies...

    My local exchange has 4 options for LLU...

    Orange - various issues with speed drops, MTU and reliability after the 'free upgrade' (AKA unbundlind) offered to its customers

    TalkTalk - Disconnections and synch probs that are resolved by a regrade (speed reduction) or a fix at the exchange after several phone calls. Awful routers.

    AOL - migration to PPPoA (dialBB etc) from PPPoE, causing routers to stop connecting, all without any apparent notifiation

    Sky - Praise where it is due, it seems to just work. Shame I can't use my own router. Or email address. (That one applies to AOL too though)

    Perhaps some regulation or intervention is needed to give these companies a kick up the arse.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Chad H re cable

    "@ ac re cable

    By Chad H.Posted Wednesday 21st May 2008 16:35 GMT vm _don't_ have a monopoly.

    If you don't like their cable service, call BT. They'll be more than happy to sell you broadband."


    Main Entry: monopoly

    Definition: Exclusive control or possession.

    whats the BT phone No. for their UK cable broadband department?

    but i DO NOT have an old BT twisted pair Phoneline installed, never mind active already.

    i DO HAVE cable installed and active.

    i want to take advantage of the open EU marketplace and buy one of the many highly powerful Cable STB's and two PC cable cards and plus valid subsciption to the UK cable network, and 2 two open market intigrated wireless docsis cable modems.

    i want to legally attach these to the UK cable network and pay my subscription for these services to the provider, just like the other EU end users can do today in their part of the EU.....

    tell me again how i can do this TODAY in the uk's second largest city full of ex-nynex/exC&W/Virgin Media area cable.

    just to make it even easyer, im also a mile away from the main NW cable hub, and i already have 2 coax cables run to my house and VM activated, from the street cab 100 yards away ,and the fibre feeding that is at the end of the road 500 yards away.

  27. Barno

    Sky routers


    You can use any router with Sky BB you just need to get the username and password out of your sky router. Luckily the sky router is a netgear one that runs Linux and so it will tell you the info that you need.

    All you need to is log into your Sky

    router by typing into your browser and then entering in

    the username admin and password sky.

    The next step is to enter the following url into your browser

    Once you have done that enter in and

    save the file to your pc. Open the file with a text editor such as

    Wordpad and you will see your Sky Username and Password listed.

    With this you will be able to use a different router other than the

    Sky provided Netgear one.

    If you want to use your Sky router on another providers broadband then

    you would have to flash the software as mentioned earlier to get

    access to the Username and password fields you would need to enter

    your existing details in.

    I have done this with Netgear DG834G routers for myself, bro and parents.

    Sky also say that their broadband doesn't work with Linux - Why sky are so full of excrementum is beyond me

  28. Chad H.

    @cable commenta

    no they are NOT a monopoly because you can buy comparable products, phone, broadband, and subscription tv, elsewhere. If you don't live in hull, Bt will sell you at least 2, and install a phone line for you. BT are a monopoly as they are the only providers of last mile phone connections to a large chunk of the country, and the only wholesale ISP to millions.

    By your crazy theroy, asda is a monopoly because I can't buy tesco branded food inside. Mcdonalds is a monopoly cos they won't sell me a whopper.

    VM went broke building that network, and compete directly with BT and sky tv in every Market they serve.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Actually not asleep but deserting their post. Presumably there will be a corresponding cut in head count now they've admitted they're doing nothing?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the price of the last mile ... falling"

    James Blessing has either been misquoted or misunderstood.

    For any ISP using BTwholesale-provided connectivity (which is lots of them, as BTwholesale is likely to remain the only national connectivity provider for ISPs who want to provide nearly-national coverage), the biggest part of the ISP's costs is not the cost of the "last mile", but the cost of the few hundred yards across a BTwholesale datacentre, with the BT national network on one side, and the ISP's own network on the other. (This bit is logically what BT call a "BT Central"; each BTw-based ISP needs at least one, some have lots, see [1] for rough prices).

    It is the outrageously high price of the bandwidth across this "BT Central" which has led many/most BTw-based ISPs to impose caps, traffic management, PAYG tariffs, etc in recent years.

    If an ISP wants customers to be able to comfortably shift more data than the 20kbit/s per customer average (6GB per customer per month) which was the design centre for BTw's ridiculous Ofcom-permitted Capacity Based Charging [1] proposed back in 2004 (before 2Mbit home broadband was even available!), an ISP has to pay BTw for more Central bandwidth. (This changes, but only slightly, in BT's much over-hyped and now-delayed 21CN).

    In contrast, the cost of the last mile is independent of the amount of traffic it carries, and it's already a smaller cost to the typical ISP than the cost of Central bandwidth. If the last mile price does go down, all it does is allow that money to be used elsewhere (straight to the bottom line, or maybe on more bandwidth at the narrowest point somewhere else eg the Centrals, or maybe on price cuts in a death match with the "free" LLU outfits??).

    So given that Ofcon's regulation of the broadband market is now to be based on where the end user connection is, what does that do to the nightmarish BTw Central pricing (which *isn't* geographically based)? Nothing, as far as I can see.

    That is the *wrong* answer for broadband users, and for ISPs, but as it's BTw and Ofcon, it's the *expected* answer. (If there is any positive effect on BTCentral pricing, I'd be pleased to see the details).

    [1] (2004, remember)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chad H

    So, using your logic, the water companies don't run monopolies because you can buy bottled water from other companies?

  32. Wayland Sothcott

    Open Retch look after their own

    In a rural area a customer lost sync on his long line. No amount of tinkering with different routers or filters or wiring would fix it. The line used to work unreliably but eventually broke. Customer was with Breath or someone. They had reported the fault to BT many times. On the advice of their tech support they switched to BT. BT gaurenteed to get the Broadband working, which they did, after they had installed 13 new telegraph poles along the street.

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