Openreach begins duct and pole sharing trials to spur fibre adoption

BT's arms-length network access division, Openreach, has began trials of a simplified duct and pole sharing processes with a number of communications services providers (CSPs) to help encourage investment in broadband services in the areas of the UK that do not currently have access to fibre networks.

A number of new fibre broadband networks could end up being constructed across the country if the trials are successful. Bureaucracy is not the issue it once was, as more companies have gained the ability to deploy their own networks in a quick and efficient manner.

Ofcom's February 2016 market review called for the opening up of Openreach duct and pole infrastructure to rivals as one of its key conditions. Though the company has done this for a number of years, its rivals have not been interested in using the system due to their belief that it was too complex, which made it difficult to engage with. Openreach's new processes are currently on trial and were designed in such a way that they could help bridge the divide between the company and its rivals in the field.

The test will be exploring quite a few new enhancements and one in particular will give companies new rules on faster surveying and building. The companies will also be allowed to inspect Openreach's infrastructure to determine if there is enough space to install their own fibre immediately without first receiving additional permission from the company.

CSPs will now also be allowed to clear any blocked ducts they may come across while laying broadband. Users though will gain the ability to install new distribution joints inside Openreach's junction boxes. The company will also continue its work to create digital maps that chart the extent of of existing infrastructure in the UK.

Openreach's CEO, Clive Selley explained the more simpler process the company has designed, saying: “We hope 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.”

“This is an important step which gives greater access to our network and encourages other companies to join Openreach in building better, broader and faster communications services for the whole UK.”

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