UK railway operator to extend fibre network?

UK railway infrastructure operator Network Rail has applied to regulator Ofcom for additional powers to control and extend its fibre network.

The railway operator is reportedly exploring the idea of offering wholesale services to other telecoms providers on the FTNx fibre network, which runs alongside its railways.

The network is presently used to carry voice and data traffic for rail operators, but will be utilised to enhance mobile coverage on major routes under new government plans.

The operator has requested “code” powers, which would reduce the red tape that makes fibre beyond the railways difficult and costly to deploy.

Ofcom has proposed that Network Rail should be afforded these code powers, as it could help to improve access and choice of broadband in rural areas.

“Due to the coverage of the applicant’s network, it has explained that this will serve to benefit the public as a whole, as it is likely to increase competition in the provision of various broadband and telecom services in the future. For these reasons, Ofcom considers that granting the Applicant Code powers would benefit the public”, said Ofcom in its proposal.

The railway operator is hoping to secure powers to maintain network infrastructure on public land without a licence, provide immunity from certain planning laws and allow it to apply for a court order to obtain rights to work on private land if an agreement cannot be reached with the owner.