HomeInsightsOfcom publishes proposals to support long-term investment in full-fibre networks

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Ofcom’s plans explain its proposed approach in future years to support full-fibre investment in order to provide certainty for industry and investors. They include:

  • regulating business and residential markets together: companies investing in full-fibre are increasingly seeking to offer a range of services over a common underlying network, serving both consumers and businesses. Ofcom will therefore now consider these markets together;
  • plans for unrestricted access to Openreach’s ducts and poles: the existing requirement for Openreach to allow competing providers to use its telegraph poles and underground ducts to lay their own fibre cables is currently restricted to companies offering mainly residential and small-business services. Ofcom will consult on plans to extend this access to companies offering high-speed lines for large businesses, as well as networks carrying data for mobile operators;
  • different regulatory approaches in different parts of the country: Ofcom intends to take a flexible approach to regulation, reflecting how many different competing fibre companies are present in a particular geographic area. Where competing networks emerge, there will be scope for Ofcom to deregulate; and
  • extending the duration of regulation from three to five years or more: to help provide longer-term certainty to investors, Ofcom will extend the period of its telecoms market reviews from three years to at least five.

These plans follow the direction set by Ofcom in its 2016 Strategic Review of Digital Communications, which focused on boosting investment in full fibre. Ofcom says that the proposals represent the next step on that path, creating the conditions for companies to invest in modern networks.

Ofcom will consult in detail on these proposals later this year. To read Ofcom’s proposals in full, click here.