The Office of Communications, popularly known as Ofcom has established the new regulations for BT after it was recently unveiled that the giant’s infrastructure wing is taking an average of 48 days for installation of business lines. Ofcom, the government-sanctioned control and competition authority for the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal industries of the UK warned BT that it has to build up and boost installation times, reduce wholesale rates and allow competitors access to their dark fiber network.
Officials in Brussels have approved proposals meaning that BT has until March 2017 to accelerate its business set-ups to 46 days, then further lessen the install time to 40 days by 2018. Openreach also has to finalize 80% of orders of leased line by the same date (end of March 2017) which it promises its consumers, increasing to 90% the following year.
BT is also required by the watchdog to let rivals access their dark fiber network; giving operators physical access to their fibre-optic cables, thus allowing them direct control of the network connection. These dark fibre demands have since been labeled as ‘cherry pickers charter’ by BT.
These rules follow March’s draft proposal. At that time, the group director of Ofcom’s competition, Jonathan Oxley stated that the new regulations would mean a benefit of faster install times, increased certainty about dates of installation and quicker repairs in case things don’t go as expected for companies across the United Kingdom.
The regulator also needs a draft proposal with the wholesale rates and terms of access to be published by BT as part of the dark fiber proposals by September 1st. BT will publish a final offer by December 1st after negotiations between them and other providers. So by October 2017, dark fiber access will be available to telecoms providers.
The access would only be needed in regions of the country where BT has been established to have SMP (significant market power), which is basically every part of the country except for Hull and Central London which are primarily served by Kcom.
The Office of Communications has also confirmed the fall in wholesale rates that BT charges for services of leased lines which the watchdog stated that it should minimize the costs for businesses. The watchdog also said the service prices for BT Ethernet are going to drop by about 12% whereas conventional line services are going to drop by 7.5%.
On the other hand, BT has clearly disclosed their views on the proposals and is unwavering that the changes will not lead to the objectives of infrastructure competition that the government-approved regulator intends. The question that remains is, whether BT will come quietly. Well, that will remain to be seen!