Ofcom drafts full-fibre broadband rules

23 February 2018 | Natalie Bannerman


Ofcom, the UK regulator, has released a draft outline of its rules for full-fibre deployment in the UK.

Under the new rules, BT must make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels open to rival providers, in order to make it quicker and easier for them to build their own full-fibre networks.

“Ultrafast speeds will allow people to download entire films, or businesses to share huge files, almost instantly. Full fibre will also underpin exciting technology like remote healthcare diagnostics, 5G mobile and connected devices, said Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s competition group director.

In addition, Openreach will have to repair faulty infrastructure and clear blocked tunnels so providers can access them. Also, it must ensure there is space on its telegraph poles for extra fibre cables connecting homes to a competitor’s network and release a ‘digital map’ of its duct and pole network, so competitors can plan where to lay fibre.

“The measures we’ve set out today will support the growing number of companies who have already announced plans to build full-fibre networks, and open the way for even more ambitious investment around the UK,” added Oxley.

Ofcom also said that it “has a role to ensure affordable access to superfast broadband for people and businesses” and it will do this by “cutting the price that Openreach can charge telecoms companies for its basic superfast broadband service”.

Since Ofcom put forward its proposals for full-fibre last year a number of companies in the industry have announced to invest.

  • Virgin Media has made progress on plans to reach a further four million premises, half of which will be full fibre.
  • Gigaclear aims to reach 150,000 rural properties by 2020.
  • Hyperoptic aims to cover five million premises with full fibre by 2025.
  • KCOM aims to have full-fibre coverage across all of its network by March 2019, covering 200,000 premises in the Hull area.
  • CityFibre, in partnership with Vodafone, aims to roll out full fibre to up to five million homes by 2025.
  • Openreach aims to connect three million homes and businesses to full fibre by 2020.
  • TalkTalk aims to cover three million premises to full fibre.

Because of the gradual process to deploy full-fibre broadband in the interim Ofcom wants Openreach to ants to ensure that Openreach installs new lines on its existing network, and fixes faults as quickly as possible. So it has also stated that the company must:

  • Complete at least 88% of fault repairs within one or two working days of being notified.
  • Complete at least 97% of repairs within seven working days
  • Provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within 10 working days of being notified
  • Install 95% of connections on the date agreed between Openreach and the telecoms provider.

These new targets must be met by 2020 - 2021.