As part of its latest Business Connectivity Market Review, Ofcom has proposed that, contrary to its previous stance, rival ISPs should be granted access to BT’s dark fibre network.
Dark fibre is simply fibre which has been laid, but isn’t currently in use (no light pulses are being sent down it, so it’s unlit or ‘dark’), and Ofcom believes giving rival service providers access – letting them take direct control of the connection – would promote healthy competition in the leased line market.
Currently, ISPs can avail themselves of BT’s wholesale leased line products to sell on to customers, but they have to use the telecom giant’s own network hardware – the difference with the new suggested scheme of things is that rivals would be able to bring in their own networking equipment, and no longer be reliant on BT’s.
That would give ISPs more scope when it comes to their leased line offerings and subsequent pricing, and make for a more competitive marketplace.
Note that Ofcom’s proposing this change for the UK, with one exception – namely central London.
Ofcom addresses some other issues in the review, and also tables minimum quality of service performance requirements for Openreach, which it says is often guilty of taking too much time to install a leased line, with install dates being put back too regularly for the watchdog’s liking.
Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom Competition Group Director, commented: “High-speed, fibre optic leased lines are invisible to most people. But they form a critical building block in the UK’s infrastructure that underpins people’s personal and working lives.
“Today’s proposals should help businesses across the UK who rely on high-speed data lines. We want to see more innovation, faster installations and more competition, by providing operators with the opportunity to deploy the technologies of their choice.”
Ofcom’s proposals will be mulled over with a consultation period set to run until the end of July, with a final decision on the move to be made in Q1 of 2016.