british telecom

“Better value rural broadband” says Ofcom

Millions of homes and businesses in rural parts of the UK could get better value broadband services by the end of this year.

This follows Ofcom’s decision to significantly reduce the prices that BT Wholesale can charge internet service providers (ISPs) in parts of the country where it is the sole provider of wholesale broadband.

The price reduction will be 12% below inflation per year and will apply to services provided using BT’s wholesale broadband network.

Ofcom expects these price cuts to generate more competition between retail ISPs and to lead to cheaper retail prices which will benefit consumers.

Better quality services

The changes may also lead to better quality services by enabling ISPs to allocate more bandwidth per customer which could deliver faster broadband services.

This could benefit around 3 million homes and businesses. These are mostly in rural areas including parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the South West of England, Norfolk, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Northumberland and other areas.

Ofcom also expects the level of the charge control will incentivise efficient investment by ISPs to deploy their own networks in these areas to compete with BT Wholesale and incentivise BT Wholesale to upgrade services where it is efficient to do so.

Lower prices

Ofcom’s charge controls could narrow the difference between prices that consumers in rural and urban areas are paying for broadband services.

This difference is mainly due to the absence of local loop unbundling (LLU), the more limited set of bundled offers available and the higher costs of delivering broadband to customers in rural areas.

LLU is a process where a phone company other than BT installs its own telecoms equipment into the local BT exchange. It can then offer its own direct phone or broadband service.

Ofcom’s aim is to incentivise BT Wholesale to continue to improve its efficiency. This could make it cheaper for other communications providers to roll out services and should ultimately benefit consumers in those areas through lower prices.

Faster broadband

The charge controls could also improve broadband speeds in rural areas in two ways.

If wholesale broadband costs are reduced, ISPs should be able to buy more capacity for their customers without increasing their costs. This could result in faster broadband for rural areas.

Ofcom will also exempt ADSL 2+ technology from charge controls. This should encourage BT Wholesale to invest in this new technology where it is cost effective to do so.

ADSL 2+ is capable of supporting faster broadband speeds than ADSL, with maximum possible speed of 24 Mbit/s over the copper network.

Ofcom expects the charge controls to come into effect by mid August 2011.

Recently, Ofcom published interactive online maps of fixed broadband which show a picture of broadband speeds, take-up and availability of superfast broadband in each area of the UK. Click here to access the maps.

Lifting wholesale regulation where competition is effective

Today’s decision follows action taken by Ofcom in December to lift wholesale regulation in more areas of the country where it concluded that broadband competition is working well for consumers.

Some 78% of UK households are now served by effective competition in mainly urban or densely populated areas, following the continued success of LLU. This has increased from around 69% of households in May 2008.

BT announces 66 more locations to be fibre connected

BT Openreach has today revealed a list of new locations to be connected to BT’s FTTP as well as FTTC services.

As a quick reminder, BT Openreach is responsible for making sure that all broadband providers have a fair access to BT’s nationwide infrastructure.

It has been calculated that the list makes up for roughly one more million of houses and businesses to be fibre-connected.

Also, the majority are going to get FTTC or FTTP services throughout 2012, while other locations were fortunate enough to be scheduled in for this year.

In addition, BT confirmed that its fibre services will be able to reach as many as 5m households and firms by the time this month ends.

The additional locations are as follows:

INVERKEITHING
ABERDEEN ASHGROVE
ABERDEEN DENBURN
NAIRN
CUMBERNAULD
GLASGOW SCOTSTOUN
SELLY OAK
SUTTON COLDFIELD
BURTON UPON TRENT
LANGLEY MILL
BRISTOL SOUTH
STROUD
ABERDARE
STAFFORD
EUSTON also includes FTTP
HOLBORN also includes FTTP
KINGS CROSS also includes FTTP
EDGBASTON
ERDINGTON
TILE HILL also includes FTTP
NORWICH
DERBY
WILLOWCROFT
MORECAMBE
CHILDWALL
CRESSINGTON PARK
SEFTON PARK
STONEYCROFT
WATERLOO
BROUGHTON, GREATER MANCHESTER
DROYLSDEN also includes FTTP
RADCLIFFE also includes FTTP
WOODLEY, GREATER MANCHESTER
BRIDLINGTON
BRIGHOUSE
CLECKHEATON
HAREHILLS
HORSFORTH
MELROSEGATE
SKIPTON
FOLKESTONE
HASTINGS
WESTGATE also includes FTTP
NEWCASTLE WEST
EASTBOURNE
BRIGHTON KEMPTOWN
ADWICK LE STREET
ARMTHORPE also includes FTTP
DONCASTER
DONCASTER NORTH
GREENHILL
INTAKE
LINCOLN
ROSSINGTON
WOODSEATS also includes FTTP
WORKSOP
COWLEY
EASTON
BRISTOL REDCLIFFE also includes FTTP
BOURNEMOUTH also includes FTTP
SOUTHBOURNE
WINTON
WESTBOURNE also includes FTTP
LEEK
BRIDGWATER
WELLINGTON

Liv Garfield, CEO for BTOpenreach, said:

“Being able to bring faster broadband speeds within reach of more than five million premises is a significant milestone and we are well on our way to passing 10 million in 2012 and two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015. This is the largest single commercial investment in fibre-based broadband infrastructure ever undertaken in the UK and is one of the biggest civil engineering projects running in the country at this time.

“The final ten per cent of the UK is going to be the hardest to reach with fixed line super-fast broadband and so we are busy trialling other technologies. One of these is based on white space and I’m glad to say the initial results are very encouraging. It’s early days but our hope is that this technology may provide an effective solution for ‘not spots’ and ‘slow spots’”.

BT is currently investing as much as £2.5bn to roll out its fibre services in the UK

Interested in changing yoru broadband connection to FTTC? Call us on 0161 660 7471 and we can check if you are a current service area.