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New Openreach maps make it easier for providers to build fibre networks

Tuesday, February 7th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Openreach has launched a new digital mapping tool to help broadband providers plan and build their own fibre networks.

The new maps give a comprehensive and interactive view of the millions of miles of underground ducts, telephone poles and cable chambers that make up Openreach’s national network.

The service will make it easier for providers such as Sky and TalkTalk to build their own fibre networks using the existing infrastructure.

Companies will no longer need to request static records and diagrams from Openreach when planning their own networks, or seek permission to carry out work.

More features will be added to the service in the coming months, including a tool that shows how much capacity is available in each duct and which parts of the network have been reserved for building work by other companies.

Openreach has already trialled simplified duct and pole sharing processes alongside five communications providers and launched them in full in January.

Ofcom announced last year that Openreach had to make it easier for rivals to build on its network as part of plans to make it a “legally separate company” from BT.

The infrastructure company was also told to repair faults and install new lines more quickly, and to appoint its own board.

Clive Selley, Openreach’s CEO, said of today’s announcement: “This is another important development in our plans to give greater access to our network and encourages other companies to join Openreach in building better, broader and faster communications services for the whole UK.

“As our infrastructure already exists, providers will be able to build and expand their fibre network in far quicker timescales than if building it from scratch. The mapping tool further enhances that process – giving providers exactly the same level of access to our network data as Openreach.

“Our ducts and poles have been open to these companies for several years, and Ofcom has been clear that the price to access them is in line with international comparisons, but they haven’t been used on a large scale to date.

“We hope that these new, simpler processes – which have been designed and developed in partnership with the industry – will encourage more companies to invest, particularly in parts of the UK that aren’t already served by high-speed networks.”

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