Ofcom’s decision to open-up access to Openreach’s dormant unlit fibre should be a big boost for UK businesses.
Communications providers who serve residential and small business customers already have access to this “dark fibre”. Now, bigger businesses will also have access to it which could cause a communications revolution for millions of customers and employees.
Full-fibre broadband delivers speeds of at least 300Mbps and depending on the distance travelled, and the number of users, speeds can be significantly higher.
However, it’s currently only available to less than 10 per cent of UK properties which is why the average broadband speed across the UK is only 18.5Mbps, well down the international league table.
Ofcom says the amount of internet data used by people in the UK is expanding by around half every year. So, faster and more reliable connections for our homes, offices and mobile networks are vital. Opening up Openreach’s unused fibre could slash up-front costs by up to half and it will also improve the business case to invest in more full-fibre services and 5G networks.
Openreach agrees that the move will significantly reduce the cost of connecting networks for mobile and broadband operators – without undermining incentives to lay new fibre cables.
The regulator’s also proposing to change the rules regarding leased lines in areas of the country where Openreach faces limited competition.
Leased lines are fibre connections direct from the local exchange to your business and offer much greater bandwidth than copper-based DSL broadband services.
Ofcom will continue to regulate what it can charge providers to use leased lines – to keep prices flat. But it also wants to impose strict requirements on Openreach for repairs and installations to ensure high service standards are delivered.
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants in Brighton, said: “Ofcom’s announcement is very positive news for many companies who have been frustrated for so long over the slow roll-out of full fibre services and also the problems they’ve faced trying to get a leased line. It will hopefully incentivise broadband providers to fight harder for fibre business and so offer better prices and improved customer services.
“Companies considering full fibre would do well to plan carefully, aligning its roll-out with their long-term business strategy as such a significant increase in broadband speeds could offer a whole new raft of possibilities to help them to expand and diversify.”