back to article Ofcom to Openreach: Thou shalt prise open thy network for firms targeting biz customers

Ofcom has ordered BT's Openreach to open its telegraph poles and underground ducts to more companies wishing to lay their own fibre networks aimed at business customers. Previously access was restricted to providers offering services to home users and small businesses. Ofcom estimates that such access can cut the cost of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Magic Ducts Fairies

    The above will be need to find any available space in the ducts... OFCOM = Clueless.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Magic Ducts Fairies

      Well if BT had done what they were supposed to with all those government billions we wouldn't be in this position in first place because (a) more fibre would have been installed (b) old copper would have been ripped out of ducts as a result.

      The current position on duct space is a direct correlation to BT's insistence on sweating the copper assets and sitting on its backside in relation to fibre until it sees an AltNet seriously turn up on its patch, then its suddenly "yes, of course we can get fibre to you Sir".

      Most of the time I consider OFCOM to be fairly useless, a typical government quango without the necessary teeth. However you should at least offer a modicum of praise when it looks like they might finally do something about something relatively worthwhile.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magic Ducts Fairies

        The government gave the money to councils and councils tasked BT and others with doing specific pieces of work. Upgrading to FTTC is quicker and cheaper than installing FTTP - so I think the choice was to give lots of people FTTC or a much smaller set of people FTTP.

        I think it depends if your approach to solving the issue is to be primarily concerned with the technology or primarily concerned with improving broadband speeds for as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, If FTTP had been the chosen option, 90% of the people with decent enough speeds today on FTTC would still be stuck on ADSL and 10% of them would have FTTP. I'm struggling with how that would be preferable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Magic Ducts Fairies

          " so I think the choice was to give lots of people FTTC"

          Except lots of people are *still* waiting for FTTC, let alone FTTP.

          Even in extreme remote rural areas such as, erm.... parts of Central London !

          BT have failed miserably If they haven't even managed to get off their backside and plaster Central London in fibre by now.

          Surely that's the lowest of the low hanging fruit ? Probably the highest population density you'll find anywhere in the UK ... and you still can't be arsed to roll out 100% fibre ?

          Well done BT. Well done.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Magic Ducts Fairies

            Central London would be among the most expensive and red-tape-ridden areas to do such a rollout, so it's hardly a surprise that it's not number one. Businesses will have leased lines anyway.

            You might be waiting for something but millions have access to FTTC with an ever growing number on FTTP. Even in rural areas, where they can string fibres from poles instead of having to dig and blow, and where road closures and other inconveniences are much easier to arrange

  2. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Huh?

    The regulator reckons more than half of UK homes now have access to ultrafast broadband (defined as services offering download speeds of at least 300Mbit/s). [citation required]

    As far as I know there is only one company offering 300mb/s internet, and then only if the wind is in the right direction. At that is "upto 300mb/s" not "at least 300mb/s" and that provider likely does not cover 50% of homes......

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Huh?

      As far as I know there is only one company offering 300mb/s internet

      Nope, the figure is correct, possibly even understated.

      There are two major CPs (BT(*) and VM) who both offer 300Mb/s or higher. Then there's KCOM around hull, almost all the alt nets offer ultrafast and there are several middle-ground CPs (Gigaclear, Hyperoptic) offering ultrafast.

      The reason you might think it's not common is because, as ever, hardly anyone is actually choosing to pay for the higher speeds. Most people don't need it and can't justify it. If everyone paid for the fastest service available to them the UK would be in number one place on the speed charts.

      (*)BT offer it through G.FAST which is very range limited but also have a lot of FTTP (GPON) in place.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        Nope, the figure is correct, possibly even understated.

        Actually, I suspect the figure is more of an overstatement.

        No where in the Ofcom report do they actually define what "Access to a download speed of

        300Mbit/s or higher (ultrafast)" actually means.

        >*)BT offer it through G.FAST which is very range limited but also have a lot of FTTP (GPON) in place.

        Just to put "a lot" into perspective, according to Ofcom's report "access to full fibre service" ie. FTTP accounts for 7% of properties.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Huh?

          No where in the Ofcom report do they actually define what "Access to a download speed of

          300Mbit/s or higher (ultrafast)" actually means.

          It doesn't really need to be defined. It's fairly well understood that 'Access to...' means that should a given property owner wish to purchase such a service they can do so. And since VM covers more than 50% of the country and with all the other CPs offering 300Mb/s or higher (including BT's lamentable G.FAST since that does at least provide some properties with 300Mb/s) it's quite easy to see how Ofcom and other industry watchers come to that conclusion.

          No-one thinks that Ofcom is claiming 50% of properties in the country already have the service. That would be ridiculous. All they (and other industry watchers are saying) is that at least 50% of properties in the UK could have a 300Mb/s or faster service if they wanted to.

          I don't think you'd find many industry pundits who would disagree with that.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Huh?

            It doesn't really need to be defined. It's fairly well understood that 'Access to...' means that should a given property owner wish to purchase such a service they can do so.

            I can purchase a FTTP service, just that the price it will have lots of zeros on it and a long lead time, thus from your definition I clearly have 'access to...'

            Does 'access to...' include properties that have a dual copper/fibre cabinet to the home cable, but only FTTC and copper to the home services are being delivered.

            The only definition that holds water, is that it only includes those properties that can access ultrafast services by only replacing the home router/modem....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Huh?

              "I can purchase a FTTP service, just that the price it will have lots of zeros on it and a long lead time, thus from your definition I clearly have 'access to...'"

              Then you are not in the low percentage deemed to have access to FTTP. That refers to properties where FTTP infrastructure is already in the street, often instead of FTTC, and the installation cost of an actual service is "consumer friendly" if not free, within a week or two of order.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Huh?

                >Then you are not in the low percentage deemed to have access to FTTP.

                Agreed, I'm in the even smaller percentage of people who have explored what jonathan keith recommended Lostintranslation do.

                So I had costings for getting 7 miles of fibre (exchange to street cabinet), street cabinet (installed and equiped) and fibre (cabinet to premises)... To cut a long story short, couldn't persuade enough residents (or the right ones) to invest and so went mobile broadband and waited (6 years) until BDUK/BT decided to install FTTC...

      2. Rob Davis

        toob.co.uk soon too

        toob.co.uk will be offering 1Gb symmetric / up & down, in Southampton, over a G.PON - Gigabit Passive Optical Network.

        This is great news but it's unclear to me how competition will take place. I can see 3 technical options.

        First that other operators use the same G.PON as toob, with DWDM - separate wavelengths up to 32 or even 96 could mean 16 to 48 symmetric broadband services, respectively, are possible, in theory over one fibre. From a simplified high level viewpoint, this is an equivalent of openreach where services are delivered over the same last mile copper connection. But in practice, one company such as toob may own that infrastructure and not be willing to let others compete on it.

        Second: multiple separate fibre optic networks are laid. But what would be the physical limit to number of fibres laid and therefore competition?

        Third, combination of first and second.

        Then there's the implementation at the customer end, which can vary, particularly with multiple customers in a building, e.g. residential. In that regard, Toob are offering full fibre G.PON into the customers premises or home - FTTP. Meanwhile hyperoptic have offered FTTP which is FTTB - to the building terminating at a Gigabit ethernet router which serves each customer via Gigabit ethernet (electrical). Inside a building can get more complicated and restrictive, physically to offer competing separate services.

        In conclusion, with new fibre services it seems some more clarity on regulation and how competition can operate, is needed from Ofcom.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Huh?

      "Has Access To" really means "Virgin have laid the cables"

      Not "Any ISP can supply ultra-fast" but "Virgin have you by the short and curlies if they choose to"

      Where's the Monoplies And Competition Commission when you need it?

      1. ICPurvis47
        Flame

        Re: Huh?

        In spite of the fact that OpenReach have fibre to the cabinet only half a mile from where I currently live, Virgin point blank refused to use that cabinet under Local Loop Unbundling rules to move my contract from where I had been with them for over ten years (NTL originally) to where I am now. They then had the audacity to try to charge me a disconnection fee, despite the fact that they were the ones who wanted me disconnected. I am now with BT, FTTC and copper the last half mile, but it is not as fast nor as reliable as the FTTP I had with VM. BTW, I am now living in the Wild West, and VM do not consider Wales as being civilized enough to warrant their incursion, despite the fact that the nearest VM box is in Oswestry, only 3 miles away.

  3. Toltec

    That will go well

    We get nervous enough when we see an Openreach van parked up near the duct access hatches that our connections run through, the idea of letting other companies start mucking around with those connections is worrying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That will go well

      I agree with you about nervous seeing Openscreech vans. That's happened so often to me at one location that I've now got the mobile and DDI of the local area manager and instructions to "call if you have any problems in the future".

      However I disagree on "letting other companies start mucking around" due to the simple fact that you hardly get Openscreech engineers these days. Instead they send you contractors who are typically worse than useless. So chances are you won't see anyone new "mucking around", just the same useless contractors being hired by different firms.

      1. Toltec

        Re: That will go well

        Fair enough, no worse than usual then, providing contacting Openreach means any issues will get fixed just as erm quickly.

  4. ukgnome

    So nice to see....

    .....that BT will finally be able to use the cable ducts that Virgin use.

    I mean that's how it will work right? You use ours we use yours?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So nice to see....

      ".....that BT will finally be able to use the cable ducts that Virgin use."

      That's not the problem.

      BT have cherry-picked their fibre deployment so they are already in areas served by Virgin anyway.

      Its the BT monopoly areas that is the problem, where BT know there's nobody else around in a 10 mile radius. BT have the ducts there but can't be arsed to use them themselves, unless an AltNet turns up and starts going through the hassle of digging their own ducts. At which point BT "suddenly remember".

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: So nice to see....

        >BT have cherry-picked their fibre deployment so they are already in areas served by Virgin anyway.

        Discussion in BT: Wheres the best place to deploy fibre to maximise our return on investment? In high density built up areas like cities.

        Discussion in VM: Wheres the best place to deploy our ultrafast service so as to maximise our return on investment? In high density built up areas like cities.

        Given the lead times on these projects, we can expect those discussions to have occurred and decisions made sometime before anyone things about scheduling a gang to dig up the streets...

      2. JimC

        Re: So nice to see....

        Does Virgin significantly invest in cable ducts anyway? My impression was that they principally rely on all the infrastructure supplied to them cheaply by the investors in umpteen bust cable companies...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So nice to see....

          "supplied to them cheaply by the investors in umpteen bust cable companies..."

          Well, at least Virgin extensively use their ducts (whatever their origins) for fibre.

          Which is more than can be said for BT, who prefer the "I'll get out of bed if you pay me enough" approach.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So nice to see....

        "BT have the ducts there but can't be arsed to use them themselves, unless an AltNet turns up and starts going through the hassle of digging their own ducts. At which point BT "suddenly remember"."

        That's not completely true. For all the whinging people throw at them, Openreach are perhaps the biggest FTTP provider in rural and less desirable areas.

        Around here they're doing a ton of FTTP infill for those that never had FTTC, or are too far from their FTTC enabled cabinet. Sadly my FTTC line appears to be too good for such an upgrade.

        No Virgin, no other competition. The postcodes don't show up on the local broadband campaign's list so unsure if they're even taxpayer subsidised. The FTTC cabinets were.

        As for "suddenly remembering" - the altnets wanted forced competition in what is really a natural monopoly, so they're going to get it. Don't see a problem with that. Nothing stopping others from taking risks and investment - one of those risks is that Openreach decide to upgrade their existing network.

  5. adam payne

    The regulator reckons more than half of UK homes now have access to ultrafast broadband (defined as services offering download speeds of at least 300Mbit/s).

    What the hell of Ofcom smoking?!?

    I must be in the other half of the country that can't get anywhere near that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What the hell of Ofcom smoking?!?"

      They're probably just copy/pasting from some document their local BT lobbyist sent them. ;-)

      They probably just forgot the magic words "up to".

      My connection at home is up to 100Gb. ;-)

  6. Lostintranslation

    Still on 6mb in Devon. There are no plans for fibre to reach us in the future either apparently, I'm hoping 5G will come online before Openreach think about digging up the roads.

    1. jonathan keith
    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you sure it's supposed to be Openreach?

      CDS were one of those campaigns that decided not to hand it all to Openreach. They gave some of the FTTP work to Gigaclear, who have recently been pulled up for missing their targets and dates in... Devon and Somerset.

      Meanwhile on the other side of the Tamar Openreach are stringing fibre from every pole, at least they are around here. Just not mine.

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