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BT Openreach sets out pricing for duct sharing

02 февраля 2011

UK network provider unveils policy for providing rivals with access to its fibre ducts, following Ofcom ruling last year.

Openreach, BT’s local access network division, has unveiled the draft pricing and design proposals for its new duct and pole sharing products for the delivery of fibre broadband services by all retail operators in the UK, with commercial launch expected in summer 2011.

The company has been required to open up the possibility of duct sharing by the UK regulator, Ofcom, in order to creative a more level playing field for fibre services.

According to Ofcom, which made its ruling last October, the move will enable providers to build their own fibre networks more cost effectively. Also in October, Ofcom said BT’s fibre lines should be opened up so that rival firms – such as Sky, TalkTalk and others – can provide their own services to consumers.

In today’s statement, Openreach said it is proposing that the price for communications providers renting space in its underground ducts will be from £0.95 per metre, per annum. A range of ancillary services and prices will also apply, giving communication providers flexibility in providing a fibre broadband service via Openreach’s duct infrastructure, the company added.

The company said it believes this is in line with comparable European offers. "Looking at an average across France, Spain, Portugal and Germany, Openreach’s price proposal is approximately 15% below the average," it noted.

Openreach said it is also proposing an indicative pole sharing price of £21.00 per pole attachment, but noted that there is very limited international precedent for comparison.

“Today we’re doing what we promised by offering the communications industry yet another way of accessing our network in order to deliver super-fast broadband speeds to homes and businesses,” said Steve Robertson, CEO of Openreach. “We’ve listened to the views and requirements of our customers and will continue to work closely with industry and Ofcom to finalise the details of our duct and pole sharing products.”

Openreach also dropped a fairly major hint that it will expect similar moves from fellow broadband network operators, such as Virgin Media.

“Although we don’t view duct and pole sharing as the silver bullet to get fibre to every premises in the UK, these new products represent a positive step, opening our infrastructure to supply industry with an even wider range of different mechanisms for delivering fibre broadband,” added Robertson. “We also think it’s really important that consumers and businesses continue to enjoy a choice of fibre services so we will be expecting others to be as open as we are.”

Openreach noted that it already provides a range of different options for communications providers to access its fibre network on a wholesale basis. These include:

Generic Ethernet Access (GEA). This is the mainstream fibre access product offered by Openreach which is the fibre equivalent of LLU. The Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) variant of the service is currently available to all communications providers, while the Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) variant is being trialled with a view to launching the product during 2011;

Sub Loop Unbundling (SLU). This is where Openreach provides a communications company with access to a partial local copper loop. The communications provider can then place equipment in their own cabinet near the Openreach cabinet to deliver super-fast fibre broadband speeds to their customers.

Communications providers can also opt to buy the FTTC variant of Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) from BT Wholesale. BT Wholesale is also trialling a FTTP variant of WBC, with a view to launching the product during 2011.

Openreach said it expects GEA to form the basis of most communications providers’ fibre offerings, but said duct and pole sharing “may also play a role in further extending the availability of fibre broadband services across the UK, particularly within the context of the government organised tenders aimed at bringing faster broadband speeds to rural areas.”

The pricing, design and terms and conditions of the Openreach duct and pole sharing products are draft proposals at this stage. The company noted that an industry consultation is planned, together with a trial of the products and process.

By Anne Morris

Источник: European Communications

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