back to article BT to retain more control over fibre networks

BT will have tighter control over competitors' access to its new faster broadband infrastructure than it has over the old copper network, after the European Commission today approved new regulations. Rather than the existing system of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU), competitors will access new fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to- …


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  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    I assume..

    ..that VULA means GEA. Tbh I don't see any problem here. The LLUOs have already indicated that they aren't interested in installing their own FTTC equipment. Ring-fenced and guarranteed bandwidth from the cab to the exchange then handover to their existing backhaul should be fine.

    Investing in FTTC is always going to risk being temporary so LLUOs are right not to get involved. It'll be more interesting to see what happens with FTTH. BT are proposing GPON in which case it'll be the same scenario.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    This would be good if...

    BT wasn't out to make a profit.

    How to stiffle main stream adoption. Allow only one company to manage the technology, set what ever prices they want to recoup their costs + profit, expect everyone to pay that price, then wonder why there has not been mass adoption!

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      How dare they..

      ..try to make a profit and be a successful company.

      Any other company with the funds and balls to compete can do so. There's nothing except cost stopping other CPs from building their own last mile. VM's predecessors did it.

      Network upgrades need investment and you won't get investment from loss making companies. At least, not without involving the government and look where that gets you. Oh and there has been far greater 'mass adoption' in the UK than most other countries due to the low cost of broadband and almost total coverage.

      There's a lot of reasons to be critical of BT but you've pretty much failed to mention any of them.

      1. Adam Salisbury
        Thumb Down

        Err yeah but,,,,

        You wanna tell everyone where VM's predecessor is now, how well that massive investment paid off them in the face of the monolithic incompetence mill that is BT?

        1. McToo


          The top dogs at Nynex (the ones who initially made the massive investment in digging up pavements in the lucky(?) places that got fibre) probably did very well out of it. Can't remember how much VM bought them for, but I don't think it was for free. And now VM have a complete monopoly on said fibre and no legislation to share that fibre with anyone else.

          And your point is what, exactly?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        BT's business strategy isn't aimed at making a profit per se...

        It's aimed at protecting their monopoly.

        If the regulatory atmosphere dictates that BT has to make a piece of its technology freely available to its competitors in order to be able to sell it themselves, then they just don't make it available at all.

        Otherwise, we'd have had broadband about 15 years ago - and ISDN about 10 years before that.

        (And don't get me started on dialup charges - remember when the *only* available portable unmetered net connection in the UK was AOL? and, more to the point, remember why that was?)

  3. Rogerborg

    Clear something up for me

    What's the European Commission - the unelected executive body of Johnny Foreigners - doing drawing up entirely domestic regulations for the United Kingdom?

    1. George09

      Ok ...

      You obviously didn't get the memo. We're part of the EU now and they get to regulate everything we do. Enjoy.

  4. Shadowthrone

    BT's standpoint, a little history

    I used to work for a subcontractor doing work for BT, I was speaking to one of the senior managers in BT's Technical Development team one day (he was on the first FTTC trials as a BT senior staff member) since I was curious I asked him why BT had not shifted over to a total fibre network (bare in mind this was about 6-7yrs ago now). His response was: They had done a cost benefit analysis and the total cost to do a complete fibre roll out to most major metropolitan areas would span into Billions of invested revenue. At the time there was not the call or demand for the levels of services that could be made available. Also they would be forced to give other providers equal access to the network with no renumeration for the initial setup costs which would mean the competition would see massive benefit from the network upgrades where as BT would be running at a heavy loss for quite some time.

    You can see their point really, why invest a huge amount of capital into upgrades which your competition will benefit from by being able to offer next-gen services without having any of the financial cost of setting up the network. At the time BT were looking at having to foot the entire bill for the roll out which simply did not make it financially viable.

    I know a lot of people rag on BT all the time, myselt included; for their general inneptitude in customer service and inter-departmental communication (not to mention the carosel-o-death that is their IVR). However, from a standpoint of a business that survives from making a profit, most sensible people would understand that huge cost in the face of minimum returns simply does not make business sense.

  5. Tom 15

    Couldn't we...

    Couldn't we have just got Virgin to LLU their existing FTTC infrastructure and avoided this whole cost? I'm all for competing infrastructures to drive down cost but having 40-60% of the populace covered by two systems whilst the rest are covered by none seems a bit silly.

  6. Ian Stephenson
    Black Helicopters

    There, fixed it for you

    Further, under VULA, Ofcom will not restrict the prices BT is able to charge competitors, claiming caps would stifle directors' bonuses and shareholders' dividends.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    "competing infrastructures to drive down costs" ?

    "having 40-60% of the populace covered by two systems whilst the rest are covered by none seems a bit silly."

    Correct, though actually it's far far worse than that. TV these days is just a stream of bits. Same for phone. So some areas have the following overlapping options, incurring unnecessarily duplicated costs, because our leaders are in awe of The Market:

    . BT phone

    . BT (non-LLU) DSL broadband

    . non-BT (LLU) DSL broadband (separate non-BT kit at the exchange, separate core network)

    . Cable phone

    . Cable broadband

    . Cable TV

    . Terrestrial TV

    . Satellite TV

    . Satellite broadband

    . Wireless broadband (where applicable)

    In a joined up world one universally available fibre to the premises could replace all of these; how much would that save on infrastructure costs?

    So rather than "the market" driving down costs, all its doing in terms of broadband is slightly driving down end user prices for a service which ends up being connected to several sets of unnecessarily duplicated exchange kit and backhauled over several unnecessarily duplicated ISP national networks. Similar argument applies to cable (be it phone, or broadband, or TV) and satellite (mostly TV only but occasionally broadband).

    Put history to one side for a moment and think about the cost savings (and the new opportunities for users, service providers, and indeed for content providers) if we had a properly designed properly managed properly regulated (!) access network.

    DSL broadband is for dinosaurs, especially so for BTwholesale DSL.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re The Market

      The market thing annoys me as well: what is a perfectly adequate description of the dynamics of the relationship between people buying and selling potatoes has very little to say about the interactions between Global-Megacorp-With -Monopolistic-Aspirations and Mr. Mug Punter. The asymmetries in the latter relationship are so large as to render the market model pretty much irrelevant.

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    cable network was for TV

    Most of the cable network now owned by VM was installed in the 1990s and was mainly for cable TV services not for broadband, so it was probably more $ky that killed the cable rollout to more areas than BT did, although it didn't help that the contractors they were using to dig up the roads were useless and would often dig up peoples gardens without permission

    It was probably 4 or 5 years after cable TV was rolled out in Manchester before broadband was available, as i remember i was working for a school IT dept at the time when it first launched i had a half a meg cable internet connection at home for just me and the entire school had a 128kb ISDN for over 500 students, so it was ofter quicker for me to go home at dinner and download stuff there and burn it onto CD and come back that try and download it over the schools internet connection

  9. Ben Raynes

    As I recall...

    .. the big complaint over LLU of the phone network was that BT had gotten they equipment and network from the GPO back in the day. They'd not paid for it, had effectively been handed a monopoly over telecoms in this country, and hence were made to share.

    This is fine - but this is completely different to BT investing their own money and profits into a new network. They paid for it, it's theirs. This is why, presumably, if the EU told VM to unbundle their network and let others use it, VM would tell them to 'eff off in no uncertain terms.

    Now, if BT are getting massive grants and tax breaks from UKGov to put this network in, that's a different situation. Anyone know anything about that? The article suggests BT are investing £2.5bn of their own money, which isn't pocket change. Are they getting additional funding from elsewhere?

  10. Tony Humphreys


    Bad me, I read it wrong, I am seeing extra V's now!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    response to Ofcom consultation

    problem is this..

    that's why active fibre being mandated by Ofcom, and now the EU - for at least 4 years - gives BT the time it needs to gain a leg up on the competition... thereby stifling long term competition.

    Someone ought to bring a test case.

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