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Openreach trials 'simpler' way of sharing its broadband infrastructure

Thursday, July 7th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Openreach has started trialling new processes that will make it easier for other providers to access its broadband network.

The company, part of the BT group, has allowed others to use its ducts and poles since 2011 but has been ordered by Ofcom to simplify the process of sharing the infrastructure.

New processes will allow broadband companies to access the network and install their own fibre cables without seeking permission from Openreach.

Providers will also be able to clear any blockages they find without gaining Openreach’s consent and install new distribution joints inside Openreach junction boxes, making the deployment of new connections quicker and more cost effective.

Ofcom hopes the changes will encourage more providers to invest in connecting areas of the UK currently without access to fibre broadband.

Trials involving five providers – including Callflow, NextGenAccess and WarwickNet – are currently taking place around the country, while Openreach is also creating new digital maps charting its network infrastructure.

Andy Conibere, Callflow’s managing director, said: “We have been using Openreach’s duct and pole access since 2011, and consider ourselves experts in this area.

“These trials mean we can build significant superfast and ultrafast networks quicker and cheaper, and can potentially make a massive difference to spreading fibre broadband to the most difficult to reach areas.”

Kenny Roberts, technical director at NextGenAccess Ltd said: “This is a great opportunity to expand our national footprint to quickly reach rural and metropolitan not spots with superfast and ultrafast fibre broadband.‎”

'Haven't been used'

WarwickNet CEO Ben King added: “We have worked successfully with Openreach for a considerable amount of time.

“Having access to their ducts and poles has allowed us to deploy our own fibre networks across poorly connected business parks on a much faster timescale, and has seen numerous businesses connected in a fraction of the time that it would have taken otherwise.”

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said: “We support other companies building their own networks using our underlying infrastructure.

“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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