Ofcom Announces Final Stages of the Wholesale Local Access Review
On Thursday 20th April, Ofcom announced the final stage of the consultation process on ‘Wholesale local access market review: duct and pole access remedies’.
This may sound ‘dry’ but is in fact a major step forward in opening up the UK infrastructure for new network providers, such as ITS.
This consultation follows Ofcom's strategic review of the market, which led to their recent announcement on OpenReach separation. That places OpenReach as a separate company not just providing infrastructure to BT Group but more openly to other providers too. I recently had a discussion with Mike McTighe, OpenReach Chair, in my role as Chair of INCA, where he expressed very clearly OpenReach's intention to collaborate much more with the altnets as major customers and partners in developing 21st century infrastructure for the UK.
OpenReach have also been conducting trials on improved processes for access to the physical infrastructure and their ducts and poles - known as PIA and DPA2. The points in this consultation extend the scope of these trials which will help altnets gain vital information as well as access to this infrastructure.
ITS is particularly keen to be involved in this. We have been pioneering 're-use and sharing’ of network infrastructure for some time; three key examples being:
- The duct sharing agreement with Virgin Media over our first fibre infrastructure in Oldham. We still share our ducts with Virgin and use others and we were one of the first alternative network providers to do so, way back in 2011.
- The ground-breaking concession agreements in place with LB Hammersmith and Fulham, Bristol, Nottingham and Skylon Enterprise Park in Herefordshire (with three others in the pipeline for announcement in Q2 this year). These make significant use of existing ducts and rooftops owned by the Councils to extend new core fibre rings and radio networks at massively reduced cost.
- Our policy of always delivering wholesale open access to other providers across our networks wherever feasible.
We see improved access to OpenReach ducts and poles as one of several means we are exploring to extend the principles of reducing access cost right into business and residential premises. This will make our wholesale and retail services even better value than they are today.
We will be responding to Ofcom’s consultation by their deadline of 15th June and would welcome any comments from customers and partners who might want to contribute also.
David Cullen - Director, Regulation and Policy.