Ofcom sets context for faster broadband

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has published proposals to encourage further investment and competition to deliver 100Mbit/s broadband services to UK homes and businesses.

Next-generation broadband will deliver these services over fibre-optic cables rather than over copper wires, which currently deliver up to 8Mbit/s to most homes.

Ofcom wants to remove barriers to investment and ensure competition in the market by creating a stable regulatory environment for investors in super-fast broadband. It also wants to ensure that consumers can keep accessing services during the transition from copper-wire to optical-fibre networks.

The regulator’s proposals include developing standards for wholesale products, to promote competition. It also plans to allow pricing freedom where there is effective competition, giving companies the flexibility to price services to reflect their investment risk.

Other proposals include investigating the scope for competition based on access to existing telecoms infrastructure, building on the work done to unbundle the local loop, and taking steps to ease the transition between copper and fibre networks. The regulator is also outlining how it will work with other interested parties including industry, the UK government and the European Commission.

Ofcom also plans to consult on proposals for the public sector to take a role in delivering investment, for example in locations where the market is unlikely to build fibre-optic networks.

The regulator will be consulting on its proposals and will produce a statement on super-fast broadband next spring.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: “Fibre networks are one of the most exciting developments in communications that the UK has ever seen. Ofcom’s plan of action will encourage further investment while promoting and sustaining competition so we can all benefit.”

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