back to article Ofcom says no price controls on full-fibre broadband until 2031, giving BT's Openreach the kick to 'build like fury'

UK comms regulator Ofcom has confirmed it will limit pricing restrictions on Openreach's full-fibre wholesale products during the gigabit rollout period. Under the rules, introduced as part of a five-year review of how the UK fixed-line telecommunications market operates, Openreach will have autonomy in how it charges for …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile in the real world...

    ...they'll barely make any progress building new infrastructure, do a bunch more layoffs, and then funnel all the profit into executive bonuses.

    I mean, it's only what happens every single other time that it's decided to not regulate a large business. Surely THIS time will be different, right?

    1. sebbb

      Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

      To be honest, it depends. In the area of London where I live they are building like fury indeed, in a matter of a month I saw FTTP distribution points appear everywhere on the poles. An area (south east London) where there are still streets without even FTTC available. In a city like London it is (to me) just ridiculous when cities like Milan were cabled in FTTH since 2001 (yes, 2001). Regulation won't make them build faster, it would just squeeze their margins and for FTTH rollout you need to invest upfront a massive amount of money with customers upgrading only gradually (if any, because they could very well hold on to their existing service to avoid engineer visits and works).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

        It's not like I'm suggesting an "only stick, no carrot" method of regulating them. The problem is that this isn't "all carrot, no stick" either, it's full on "give the carrots in advance and hope the donkey feels like doing the work".

        There's absolutely no motivation for Openreach to improve if they can just carry on as they are now, there needs to be either positive reinforcement for actually doing the work or negative reinforcement for failing to do so.

        And of course they're building like fury in London, it's London. As always, the pace of things outside the M25 is more... "relaxed". We certainly get plenty of Reg articles pointing that out.

        1. Oddlegs

          Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

          Just about all broadband improvements in the last 20 years have concentrated on urban environments. That's not surprising given that the return on investment will be far greater there but it won't be long before people living in urban environments have a choice between Virgin, FTTC, 5G and now FTTP. Meanwhile people in more rural environments are lucky to get a 1Mbps ADSL line.

          I know that there are still several built up areas where the options are poor so this isn't a universal truth but rather than giving yet more options to people who are already able to get >50Mbps why not try to get everyone up to that standard first. If we don't we'll end up with a two tier system where half of the country get 1Gbps whilst the rest are lucky to get 1% of it.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

            And meeting the vocal calls by those who already have an urban service of FTTC to get that choice means that the rural roll-out will falter.

          2. Overflowing Stack

            Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

            "Meanwhile people in more rural environments are lucky to get a 1Mbps ADSL line." just get Elon's Starlink. I would if I was still on my orphaned from FTTC cabinet in not so rural Northamptonshire

            1. Oddlegs

              Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

              I'd love it but current prices at least are an order of magnitude greater than a fixed line connection

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

                "current prices at least are an order of magnitude greater than a fixed line connection"

                100/20 for £80/month is about 25% more expensive than Zen. It's planned to bump to 300/100 before the end of 2021, which puts in itn FTTP pricing territory and at that speed the £365 dish cost is CHEAP

          3. Piro

            Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

            It's funny, in Denmark (in my experience) it's been completely the opposite.

            Used to live in the middle of the largest town in the region; ADSL was the best I could get, 50Mbps.

            Move out to the countryside? Symmetrical gigabit fibre to the home.

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Meanwhile out in the boonies

          or 15 miles from the M25.

          There are ZERO plans to get FTTH available for domestic customers.

          i fully expect that BT will fibre up all the constituencies where the MP is on one of the select committees that BT have to answer to (and/or where the MP has their 2nd/3rd/4th homes)

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile out in the boonies

            or even <1 mile from the M25 (I can see the lights from my living room window along with the lights on passing HGVs and I'm close enough to HEAR the traffic)

            If you're in an area with ECI cabinets, don't expect to see FTTP anytime soon

      2. Bogbody

        Re: Meanwhile in the real world...

        Meanwhile out here in the Fen we wont see an FTTP connector this century ........

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meanwhile out here in the Fen

          Would that be Ramsey Fen then? Don't get too close to Forty Foot though.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    still be obligated to offer an affordable entry-level 40Mbps superfast service

    "Affordable" is an interesting word. If a service is not affordable, that literally means nobody can afford it, so I suppose here it means "affordable by the plebs" as opposed to "only affordable by the sinking rich". Same as "affordable homes". Oh, the cunning euphemisms for disparity of wealth.

    Apart from which, total withdrawal of the copper service will reduce resilience, as POTS is self powered, but of necessity fibre endpoints must be powered locally (unless some cunning person works out how to convert the average light level in the fibre into sufficient power for the endpoint to operate). In event of a local power cut, comms will fail pretty soon too.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

    So, they can charge more because it will cost less to run and maintain and people will get the speed they are paying for (rather than "up to")?

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

      The figure of £1.70 needs more clarification. Is that £1.70 more per quarter, month, week?

    2. Gavin Chester

      Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

      I suspect they will charge the extra £1.70 because they can, rather than any other reason.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

      If your Internet speeds turn to custard when it rains, you have a service that may benefit from the additional reliability of fibre (wel, other than just the speed).

      And the £1.70 is per month - £20.40/annum.

      1. PM from Hell

        Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

        we do live in a remote village and BT have replaced the 100 year old aluminium cable that ran past the duck pond with fiber. We can now get 30 MBPS and its not affected by rain (although strong winds can still be a problem) its been a fantastic upgrade from a link which varied from 0 - 8 mbps with no way to forecast when there would be a problem. Whilst 30 mbps is a huge improvement I can't see FTTH coming here any time soon as the housing density just isn't there.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

      I take it you're expecting the fibre to be provided for free by the manufacturer along with the equipment and to be installed for free by people working just for the sheer joy of it.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: £1.70 more ... justified due to the speed and reliability fibre offers over copper

      They charge more for the same reason a dog licks its b****

      "Because they CAN"

  4. Tom Chiverton 1

    The way I read it, as soon as N% are on fibre, they'll pull the copper out and tell everyone else "pay us more or loose the internet".

    Surely not ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Not just lose the internet, lose your phone as well.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        re: lose your phone as well

        given that the only people who call me on my landline are scammers then this might be an advantage.

  5. simonlb

    There's no need for this

    I'm sure they could scrap HS2 and allocate some £30Billion to Openreach to get the job done. Seriously, after the past 12 months who absolutely needs to get to London 30-minutes earlier just to attend a meeting when you can do it from home?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's no need for this

      HS2 is about capacity. Speed is just a side effect. When lockdown is completely over, we will go completely back to normal. Some will stay at home and work but most will be so glad to get out of the house they'd even happily go to work.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: There's no need for this

        "HS2 is about capacity. Speed is just a side effect."

        more specifically, HS2 is about FREIGHT capacity on the east/west mainlines.

        Getting faster passenger services off them essentially doubles the amount of frieght that can be shifted on them.

        The actual cost of HS2 is in the noise compared to the economic benefit of making more capacity available on the other mainlines

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's no need for this

      You're joking, right? The government has spent £53 billion on test and trace and there's fuck all to show for it. If they throw £30 billion at Openretch there will be fuck all to show for that either. Well, OK maybe BT's executives will get extra-large bonuses and pay rises.

  6. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    WTF?

    Getting paid twice then

    Nice piece of negotiation there. Isn't there a subsidy for rolling out superfast broadband? And now they can charge what they like for it.

    Meanwhile, oop North, we actually have FTTC, but being all of 200 yards from said C, we can only have 13Mbps. Phooey.

    Vermin Media know this, so no discounts to stay for us!

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Getting paid twice then

      "Signup for starlink"

      Seriously.

      The deposit is 100% refundable, Starlink get to use the preorder numbers in their press release and if you change your mind. loaning Elon £85 to scare Openwound into actually providing customer service is a pretty good investment

      https://www.starlink.com/

  7. mark4155
    FAIL

    Oh I wish....

    I live (for my sins commited in a previous life) in Miles Platting. About 1.5 Miles from Manchester city centre. It's not in the sticks or at the end of some god forbidden farm track.

    My Internet offering (all ISP's) is ADSL+2 with around 7mb down and a sprightly 1mb up around 36ms latency. The exchange (Collyhurst) is situated 1.5 Miles away (cable length). I'm an Ex Openreach engineer just for the record.

    We don't have FTTP nor FTTC at the cabinet, just ADSL direct to Collyhurst (via the cab).

    Across the way, about 200m away, I can see the pole garnished with fibre access at the top serving a host of SME's.

    I wrote to the shadow minister for business, my local MP Lucy Powell, and put the matter to her. She wrote back to say 80% of Manchester of residents have fibre access, but if I want to have FTTP I could bung Openreach (OR) a few thousand and they'd provide me and my neighbours with the goods. I only asked for FTTC.

    I contacted OR and they said that they are now concentrating on FTTP rather than FTTC. So FTTC has left the building.

    Someone said that OR were obliged to provide FTTP to all new builds. A thought quickly flashed through the old grey matter, knock the house down, rebuild, and hey presto FTTP. Surely must be an easier way......

    Maybe that nice man Mr. Musk from the computer shop who has a sale on for Starlink is an alternative route?

    No 5G mobile here and 4G gives me about the same speed as ADSL.

    Apart from moving, what do other readers suggest? (Answer on a postcard and no smutty suggestions).

    Toodle Pip.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Oh I wish....

      As you’ve mentioned, You could pay the thousands of pounds and get a faster connection for you and your neighbours would be cheaper than rebuilding your house.

      There is the community fibre partnership that could reduce the cost to you

      https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/community-fibre-partnerships

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Oh I wish....

      "Maybe that nice man Mr. Musk from the computer shop who has a sale on for Starlink is an alternative route?"

      Maybe: he's taking preorders. Put down your 100% refundable £85 deposit to reserve your place in the queue

      The advantage of doing so is that when Starlink announces orders numbers it makes BT look bad and might make them realise there's a tank on the lawn with 75mm gun pointing at the front windows.

  8. Mark@Excelledia

    Yawn...

    If we get fibre here in the back of beyond I'll eat my hat.

    The guy came out 2 years ago to survey it and said it was feasible, nothing since.

    Community fibre wouldn't work here as there are only 3 properties in the square mile...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      if you have Starlink at 300/100, do you need it?

  9. Seenit

    Predictable comments from people with slow broadband in the middle of nowhere wanting everyone else to pay for them to have fast broadband. Competitors can use Openreach ducts and poles to lay their own fibre.

    1. mark4155

      Oh dear which side of the Broadband bed did you get out of this morning?

      Fast, fibre broadband is no longer a luxury and the sooner Openreach get the message the better for all of us.

  10. TrumpSlurp the Troll

    How long

    Does it take between cabling up those fibre terminations to the local poles and offering a service?

    Must be a couple of years now at least.

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