Wednesday, October 6, 2010

UK Regulator Issues Wholesale Fibre Access Rules

Ofcom, the official telecom regulator in the UK, published new rules designed to promote competition and investment in super-fast broadband services across the UK. The plan calls for "virtual unbundling/; -- allowing competitors to have access to a dedicated virtual link over new fibre lines laid by BT. Ofcom will permit BT to set prices for these new wholesale products. These prices would be constrained by market forces given the highly competitive wider broadband market, while enabling BT to make a fair rate of return reflecting commercial risk. Ofcom would still enforce rules to prevent anti-competitive pricing. BT has already started offering its "Generic Ethernet Access" and has agreed to develop it further in line with the requirements outlined today.

Key elements of Ofcom's Wholesale Local Access (WLA) regulatory model include:

  • Virtual Unbundled Local Access ("VULA"), which will allow competitors to deliver services over BT's new NGA network, with a degree of control that is similar to that achieved when taking over the physical line to the customer;

  • Physical Infrastructure Access ("PIA"), which will allow competitors to deploy their own NGA infrastructure between the customer and the local exchange, using BT's duct and pole infrastructure, to provide broadband and telephony; and

  • Local Loop Unbundling ("LLU") which will continue to provide a basis for competition in current generation services, allowing competitors to physically take over (or share) BT's copper lines between the customer and the local exchange.

See also