Broadband providers will be given more access to Openreach’s telegraph poles and underground tunnels to lay their own high-speed cables, under new plans drawn up by regulator Ofcom.
Officials want to let rival providers use the infrastructure from BT’s Openreach network to improve internet speeds and reduce prices for homes and businesses.
They claim the new measures will reduce rollout costs by half their current level.
The measures announced today are focused particularly on larger businesses who require dedicated lines for their internet but can be limited in the choice of services available.
Jonathan Oxley, competition director at Ofcom, said: “The amount of internet data used by people in the UK is expanding by around half every year. So, we’ll need faster, more reliable connections for our homes, offices and mobile networks.
“Our measures are designed to support the UK’s digital future by providing investment certainty for continued competitive investment in fibre and 5G networks across the country.”
Rivals already have some access to Openreach’s network of tunnels and poles, with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and CityFibre already using 12,000 poles and 1,550 miles of tunnels.
The rules already in place, which allow for some access to the network, has mainly focused on homes rather than businesses. This has allowed companies to increase broadband speeds by laying new full fibre cables, which run from the internet exchange direct to the home.
An Openreach spokesman said: “We share Ofcom’s desire to improve service across the industry.
“Our ducts and poles have been open to other companies since 2011, and we recognise that unrestricted access is a natural next step, so we had volunteered to get on with that, ahead of Ofcom’s original schedule.
“We’ll consider the range of proposals carefully, and we’ll continue to work with Ofcom on developing an environment that encourages greater investment.”