CityFibre, Virgin Media Oppose Ofcom’s BT Dark Fibre Access Plan

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Founding members of Infrastructure Investment Group say Ofcom must encourage broadband investment

CityFibre and Virgin Media are among those who have voiced opposition to Ofcom proposals to allow third party communication providers to access BT’s dark fibre, claiming broadband regulation must maintain a “pro-investment” and “pro-competition” investment environment.

Ofcom claims its proposals, part of Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review, will promote competition in the business broadband sector and reduce prices for customers.

The move would give the likes of Sky and TalkTalk greater access to the Openreach network, but would be a blow to operators who act independently of BT’s open access network. The four founding members of the ‘Infrastructure Investors Group (IIG)’, claim their respective rollouts and planned investments demonstrate the existing model is working.

Virgin Media is currently engaged in a £3 billion expansion of its cable infrastructure, while CityFibre has launched several urban 1Gbps fibre to the premise (FTTP) networks. Data centre firm and broadband specialist Zayo say they plan to make significant investments in the UK in the near future.

Broadband investment

packetfront“The current regulatory environment today is supportive of competition and investment. The progress of CityFibre and IIG members is demonstrating this. So the debate is about where further regulatory intervention is required,” said Mark Collins, director of strategy and public policy at CityFibre. “The BCMR proposes additional layers of regulation on BT, in particular at the passive networks for dark fibre. The IIG members feel is this additional layer of regulation is not justified and that Ofcom have not undertaken sufficient analysis before making their proposals.

“The BCMR proposes additional layers of regulation on BT, in particular at the passive networks for dark fibre. The IIG members feel is this additional layer of regulation is not justified and that Ofcom have not undertaken sufficient analysis before making their proposals.”

“Along with the other members of the IIG, Zayo is investing significant amounts of capital to build out our network specifically to accommodate the needs of this new network demand dynamic,” added David Howson, president of Zayo Group’s international business division. “We share the IIG’s belief that a clear, open and competitive market is the best environment to continue to encourage this type of long-term investment in the UK, to the benefit of all.”

BT also opposes any move by Ofcom to add additional regulation.

“On dark fibre there is a real risk it would un-level what is a level playing field today,” Openreach CEO Joe Garner said in May. “I could very well understand why the larger, well-resourced communications providers that have the ability to develop the boxes and all the supporting infrastructure might like the idea of dark fibre, but what would it do to the other end of our 530 communications providers and their capabilities. Will it not favour of the big guys in favour of the smaller players?”

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