back to article Ofcom pressuring BT to slash wholesale prices for superfast broadband

Ofcom could force BT's Openreach to slash the prices it charges rivals for access to its superfast broadband network under plans that could shave millions off consumer bills. With proposals published by the watchdog today intended to encourage "full-fibre" investment, Ofcom said it wants to cut the wholesale price that …

  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge


    And the chances of any of the actual end customers seeing any of those savings are...

    Absolutely ZERO.

    1. Cynical Observer

      Re: Hmmm...

      Surely that's being a overly optimistic.

      With a 40% reduction in wholesale cost, I have every confidence they'll only pass on

      40% of ZERO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm...

        Surely that's being a overly optimistic.

        They'll increase line rental by 40%

  2. Kaltern Silver badge

    What about my 80Mb line? Is 80Mb too fast for the same reduction?

    Not that, as stated above, I'll see any actual reduction...

    1. Known Hero

      well that's twice as much that must mean you will get a 80% reduction !

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >What about my 80Mb line?

      Well, Ofcom aren't capping the charges on lines with speeds greater than 40Mbps, so expect the prices of Infinity 1 line (speed upto 52Mbps), Infinity 2 (speed up to 76Mbps), Ultrafast (FTTP) and G.Fast to rocket, if this goes ahead...

      [ ]

  3. Roland6 Silver badge

    Ofcom fail...

    Openreach charges rivals £88.80 a year in wholesale charges for each individual superfast package, but by 20/21 Ofcom wants that to fall to £52.77 a year.

    So where does Ofcom envisage a newly 'independent' OR obtaining the capital (and the means to repay it with interest) to deliver the superfast broadband and faster services, that it and Sky et al are wanting?

    Given this level of interference in the market, I expect BT to either suspend investment in OR managed infrastructure or turn it into loans and so load OR with debt, which has to be repaid monthly rather than "at some later date"

  4. Blotto

    What a great way to encourage others into the market by regulating down the wholesale cost of the incumbent monopoly. Anyone with any plans doing last mile now have to contend with their bigger, more resourceed rival becoming cheaper.

    Well done OFCOM.

    This news would be welcome in the energy market though. OFCOM & OFGEN should switch roles.

  5. Planty Bronze badge

    When can I pay less for a data only line?

    I am currently forced to pay for a phone line that is little more than a scammer hotline. OFCOM need to sort their crap out.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

      I assume the calls part of your line rental costs effectively nothing - it's the physical infrastructure you're paying for.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

      "I am currently forced to pay for a phone line that is little more than a scammer hotline. OFCOM need to sort their crap out."

      People love to complain about line rental, but there's really no such thing. You pay for the infrastructure to provide you with the service you're paying for, plus some profit. It makes no difference whether they say that's £20 for internet and £17.50 line rental, or just say it's £37.50 for the whole thing, you're still going to be paying the same amount. The only reason line rental charges have come in for criticism recently is because most providers tried to hide it entirely to make it look like packages were cheaper than they actually were. As long as the full cost is shown up front, there's absolutely no reason to complain about how they may break it down.

      As for a landline being a scammer hotline, there's a very easy way to deal with that - don't plug anything in to it. If you don't want the line in the first place, why would you bother actually using it?

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

        A couple of reasons... It's cheaper or free for people to ring you (assuming they're not geeks who'd use Skype/whatever.

        A more important reason is that if you make a 999 call then the Emergency Services instantly know where you're calling from which could save time in a critical situation and ensure that the cavalry go straight to the correct place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

          I can just email the emergency services.

          1. Neil 44

            Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

            Or use an IP phone? Common in the US of A...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

              This is what one VoIP service provider in UK has to say about that.

              "Due to these reasons, we recommend using a landline or mobile phone to call the Emergency Services whenever possible.

              Our Services may not provide your phone number and location details to the operator of 999/112 public emergency call services if you make a public emergency services call. You may have to provide your location information and phone number verbally to the operator.

              We recommend you inform the emergency services immediately that you are using VoIP to make the call and provide your location details as soon as possible.

              If the services are to be used principally at a single, fixed location, you must register with us the address of the place where the service will be used, in order to assist emergency services organisations."

              On their website, first and third paragraphs are in bold.


              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: When can I pay less for a data only line?

                I don't see the problem here... if your in a fixed location you register the handset location - standard for any (at least) UK based VOIP provider - that data will then be given to the emergency services, problem solved.

                If your using it on the move that obviously won't help - but then mobile network triangulation is not particularly accurate either, particularly in a rush... so your not that much worse off if you need someone to find you in a hurry.

  6. Neil 44


    What is this strange fibre of which you speak?

    Its a fable to those of us with Exchange Only lines....

    1. aidanstevens

      Re: Fibre?

      Indeed, it would be a lot fairer if they reduced the cost of ADSL2+ lines instead of fibre.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No one has mentioned monthly download Caps.

        The devil is in the detail and very restrictive 10GB Download Caps on a "up to" 40Mbps mainstream product could be BT's "get out".

        The problem is none of BT's headline Ultrafast plans cater for lines longer than 500m (250m - crow flies). By lowering the cost of "up to" 40Mbps, it could move most consumers off ADSL, which is required to allow the rollout of LR-VDSL (Long Range VDSL)

        LR-VDSL is the only hope for consumers on longer lines getting less than 10Mbps, without otherwise in-fill FTTC upgrades (which requires more extensive copper rollout/spend, not something that would be acceptable to Ofcom).

        BT being forced/agreeing to the Lords ammendment to a 30Mbps USO (which is a more realistic minimum USO), would scupper both ADSL/LR-VDSL to the scrap heap.

        BT Agreeing to FTTP on all lines longer than 500m is starting to look inevitable.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: No one has mentioned monthly download Caps.

          >BT Agreeing to FTTP on all lines longer than 500m is starting to look inevitable.

          But who is going to pay the cable pulling costs? Given the number of homes (without preinstalled dual copper/fibre cable) this is likely to cover won't be small...

          What Ofcom have missed is a simple, demand on Sky et al to match fund BT's investment commitments and thus create a pot of monies that can be dedicated to a significant universal infrastructure update, within a reasonable timeframe.

          1. Adam Jarvis

            Re: No one has mentioned monthly download Caps.

            >BT Agreeing to FTTP on all lines longer than 500m is starting to look inevitable.

            Ofcom are saying to BT, charge what you need to commercially, but lay pure FTTP and start offering the service. Stop withholding things on the basis of what you think people want, give them the choice. Elsewhere in the World, it seems commercially viable, so stop whining, asking for subsidies.

            Above all, get on with it, because you won't make any profit from those lines longer than 500m, any other way, we're regulating those customers.

            BT/Openreach obviously need to concentrate on streets/towns at time rather than individual properties to make it worthwhile.

            I think if BT were to cause nearby towns to compete for rollout 50/50, you'd see much better uptake.

            Ofcom have realised what a bamboozed mess will be if its rolled out en-masse.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: No one has mentioned monthly download Caps.

              >Elsewhere in the World, it seems commercially viable, so stop whining, asking for subsidies.

              So why are Sky et al whining? They (Sky specifically) has had decades in which to make the investment, rather than be depend'ent upon the BT monopoly, their inaction has helped to create...

              BT has known the commercial viability of deploying fibre since the 1980's, the only problem has been Ofcom's obsession with creating a 'market' and doing whatever to prevent BT from using its monopoly. Thus one of the reasons BT delayed rolling out FTTC, was because if they did, other providers (eg. Virgin) could and did cry foul to Ofcom that BT were using their size and monopoly to push them out of the market.

              so the question is simple, either Ofcom wants BT to commence a commercial infrastructure upgrade to FTTP and is prepared to sacrifice 'competition' if it enables it to be completed faster, or it simply wants to kick Bt and distract from it's own short comings.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fibre?

        Ofcom/BT are needing to obsolete LLU/ADSL2+, by enticing the switch to FTTC services, to enable rollout of LR-VDSL for lines longer than 500m. Otherwise it means compensating LLU ADSL2+ Telcos for loss, when customers are moved off ADSL2+, to enable LR-VDSL.

        Hence why Sky probably had a massive campaign recently via MSE to offer free ADSL services for 12 months, paying as little as £64 for the year inc line rental (once you include all discounts). Sky want compensation paid for those ADSL LLU Services in the coming year or two.

        Without phasing out ADSL2+, anyone with a line longer than 250-500+ metres are being offered nothing by BT's Current plans for Ultrafast Hybrid Copper, specifically Rural Folk.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Fibre?

      What is this strange fibre of which you speak?

      I'd pick up some All Bran next time you're in the supermarket, it's full of fibre and will keep your expressions regular...

  7. inmypjs Silver badge

    "Our plans are designed to...

    encourage long-term investment in future ultrafast, full-fibre networks, while promoting competition and protecting consumers from high prices."

    So reducing Openreach prices means Openreach have less money to invest and their possible competition have less incentive to invest and be competitors.

    Ofcom's design is rubbish, but, what else is to be expected from the utterly useless and incompetent Ofcom?

    1. Mr Humbug

      Re: "Our plans are designed to...

      On the other hand, if OpenReach can't make any profit from 40/10 Mbps connections then it has an incentive to make sure all those that want a faster connection can get it. That may be Ofcom's logic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Our plans are designed to...

        BT Retail are already ignoring "up to" 40Mbps BTWholesale products, so effectively, there is no restriction on BT Retail, just on BTWholesale products offering "up to" 40Mbps. Maybe this is just a push to level the playing field, against BT, to offer "up to" 52Mbps to all BTWholesale CPs, and nothing more.

        Bottom line, it's all getting far too complicated for anyone to get their head around, consumers are utterly Bamboozled.

        The message to Clive Selley/BT Group/Openreach is obvious though. Stop spending money on copper technologies ( etc), or we (Ofcom) will make your life hell.

  8. John Geddes

    Nice idea on Download, shame about the Upload

    Ofcom's proposal to cap the cost of 40Mbps fibre appears to be silent on the upload speed to be offered. Knowing the creativity of profit-hungry firms, they will try to make the capped product as unattractive as possible - 40/0.4 anybody?

    Of the current 40Mbps offerings, the lowest at 40/2 isn't really up to the job of being a "reference" product - the time taken to set up Cloud Backup runs into many days for a reasonably sized PC setup.

    If Ofcom understands the upload question, it would have been clever of them to acknowledge it and to have explained what they are requiring. Their seeming silence raises the worry that it simply hasn't occurred to them

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Nice idea on Download, shame about the Upload


      Upload? Upload? no, no, there is no need to worry about upload speeds sir. Advertisers don't care about your upload speed. Just need to get those HD Flash Ads delivered to your eyeballs *FAST* before you click on the next adbait website.....

      <actually, I WISH I was joking>

  9. druck

    Minus Football

    New formula:-

    Openreach wholesale broadband charges -= BT Sport payment for football rights

    Lets stop everyone else paying for BT's failed TV experiment.

  10. jacobbe

    OfCom are a complete joke.

    OfCom order BT to invest more, yet force them to slash prices. Contradictory demands. Left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    Anyone wanting faster than 40Mb broadband most likely be paying through the nose and being billed for new network infrastructure then!

  11. AndrueC Silver badge

    I think what Ofcom are doing is removing the profit from slower services while allowing Openreach to set whatever margins they like on faster services. Thus they hope to encourage Openreach to invest in NGA.

    The problem I see with that is twofold:

    * Firstly - if they remove too much profitability too quickly Openreach might be starved of funds.

    * Secondly - it assumes that there is a significant appetite in the market for faster services.

    On the latter point, there just isn't much appetite for faster services. You've only got to look at package take-up to see that most people are buying on price. This might come as a shock to those of you clamouring for Gb connections but you really are (at the moment) in the minority. Most people - even families - have yet to see any need for >40Mb/s services.

    If BT came out with a sensibly priced 1Gb/s offering it would flop. Frankly if their up to 80/20 service required special hardware it would have been a flop. There just isn't that much demand for it. So forcing openreach to market a product that very few people want is a risky strategy.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      So forcing openreach to market a product that very few people want is a risky strategy.

      As is removing too much profitability to quickly from a product the market both wants and as yet isn't universally available. In fact set the price too low and consumers get a double whammy: there is insufficient profit for BT to be bothered trying to enhance service availability (at any reasonable rate) and because of the low price Ofcom are setting, ALT-ISP pricing will be seen to be expensive (rather than slightly more costly) and hence they won't be rushing to fill the gaps in BT's service.

      Naturally, Sky et al will complain that it is BT being a laggard and not due to the daft rules Ofcom has set and demand Ofcom intervenes; thus the field gets set for another round of Ofcom bashing BT...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Superfast Cornwall

    Try being told your house, along with 2 others, will be the only ones left off the upgrade in the whole area. Apparently we're on a cabinet miles away (our 2mbps confirms that) and moving us to a nearer upgraded FTTC cab would "break policy as it could affect the speed of existing customers". After asking they're talking in the range of about 0.01mbps negative impact on existing fibre subscribers. Oh well, hope they don't need access to the BT equipment on our land anytime soon!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Superfast Cornwall

      I don't understand why there hasn't been more of push by Ofcom/MPs to get problem lines moved onto 'nearer' FTTC cabinets, that are outside the traditional 'exchange' topology, which feeds the existing copper pair.

      BT themselves are moving the infrastructure away from a central exchange layout. This would quickly solve a number of headline cases, that have been put back 10 times or more times, in terms of completion dates. Some install dates are 3 years overdue now.

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