back to article Tories will force BT to open up ducts to rivals

The Tories continued their 21st Century bread and circuses election campaign yesterday, pledging once again to jack-up broadband speeds in the UK. This time, Jeremy Hunt, the party's culture spokesman, told the FT that a Tory government would force BT to open its cable ducts to rivals to speed the rollout of new networks - a …


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  1. Annihilator

    You can tell it's an election year

    BT in talks to do something anyway for over a year.

    Tories jump in to say "aha! we're going to force BT to do this!"

    Much like I forced my train to stop at Waterloo this morning. None of the other passengers looked impressed.

    1. Graham Marsden

      None of the other passengers looked impressed.

      Well, they'd have been even less impressed if you'd forced it to run through the buffers and onto the concourse...!

      1. Martin 71 Silver badge

        Given the relative heights of the councourse and tracks

        Wouldn't that have been 'run the train through the buffers and INTO the concourse, at about 3'6" deep?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT bullsh**

    BT are a bunch of bullshitters, the only way they will ever open up is if forced to by law. They should break BT up into infrastructure and services. Its a monopoly which provides an utter shit service at a high price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Title? What title?

      "They should break BT up into infrastructure and services"

      They did that a few years ago, who do you think Openreach are? All opening up the ducts will do is allow other providers to lay their own fibre more cheaply (not a bad thing) *where there is already fibre*. It won't do anything for the uneconomic areas. If you live in a decent sized town/city, you'll probably get more choice & a cheaper price, if you live in a rural area you're still ****ed.

    2. ProperDave

      There's already one division

      There's already one division in BT; BT Retail, the telephone provider is *meant* to be a seperate entity to BT Openreach, the network operator.

      Granted I've worked in the telecomms sector for a company producing business software for small ISP's running on the BT Backbone, and I'm aware the distinction blurs. Even though Retail is meant to be just like Carphone Warehouse or BSkyB from a provider perspective for example, there's still an unhealthy level of incest between the two BT branded companies when it comes to line acquisition and servicing abilities with Openreach.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Actually there's four.

        BT Retail - phones & broadband to Mr/Mrs Average (& smaller companies)

        BT Wholesale - big businesses

        Openreach - physical cabling & networks

        Global Services - IT spod stuff (eg NHS Spine, MoD etc)

        Any 'incest' - i.e. treating another division differently to any other corporate customer (by cutting admistrative corners, or pushing stuff to the top of the pile) - is highly frowned on. (I should know, they make us do an exceedingly uninteresting online training course *every year* on that subject)

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Sadly, yes

        It'll be the same as LLU.

        That's pretty much ground to a halt now. All the easy/best exchanges have been unbundled so the LLUOs have finished their land grab. The exchanges that are left are not worth bothering with from their POV - only BT can be bothered to service those people.

        So there we have it. BT has been crippled because it's lost a large chunk of its more profitable customers.

        LLUOs will not go anywhere where they can't make money. Not that BT is blameless in this. Which exchanges are top of the list for it's much vaunted (hah!) FTTC? The ones where there's already a VM presence.

        Basically - the residential telecoms industry is a shambles. The only consensus is that everyone should charge less. Sod the fact that low prices are incompatible with investment.

      3. alex dekker 1

        RE: There's already one division

        ProperDave wrote:

        > there's still an unhealthy level of incest between the two

        What would you consider to be a healthy level of incest?

  3. Joel 1
    Thumb Down

    Rural Digital Divide widens....

    Unfortunately, this does not help rural communities much - opening up BT's ducts is only relevant where BT actually has ducts. In rural areas, much of the copper goes via telegraph poles. Are these being made available? BT has a monopoly for delivering telecommunications via poles, even if you were to invest in your own ones.

  4. Bumpy Cat

    "prepping for broadband colonoscopy"

    Made me wince and laugh at the same time. If anyone deserves that, it's BT.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      They're alright

      Quite; rural areas will likely never been popular targets for private investment, so all the Tory talk of competitive pressure will come to naught. They'll score their cheap points by getting BT to do something they would have done anyway. A few people in nice houses will get faster broadband, and everyone in unattractive areas will be stuck in the same situation.

      But, hey, at least we'll be saved £6 a year each, eh? If we'd used that to provide services to people in poor or rural areas, they'd probably only have looked at porn or something.

  5. Steve X

    That's just great

    Now even when you buy your backup resilient service from a completely different supplier who doesn't just rent capacity from BT, you can still have all your comms taken out by a single JCB.

  6. Tim #3


    Would that be the same Carphone Warehouse as the one set up by David Ross, buddy of southern softy Cameron and donor to the Tory Party? Seems a useful coincidence.

    1. The Original Ash

      A title?

      5th paragraph, bub. The story already states that both CPW and BSkyB are Tory-types.

  7. Julian Bond

    And Virgin?

    How about they force Virgin Cable to sell bandwidth wholesale, provide LLU and open up their ducts to 3rd parties? After all, the cheap loans and tax incentives to the original cable companies[1] have all been used up or buried in multiple buyouts. So if one half of the duopoly is constrained and forced to provide for a 3rd party market why isn't the other half?

    [1] Maybe it's time for another round of tax incentives and cheap loans for new operations who can lay fibre to the home?

    1. Elmer Phud

      As if

      Damn good idea -- there's more than one lot of green boxes at the side of the road - why not use the other ones?

  8. Desk Jockey

    BBc Licence fee?

    Why would the Tories fund this out of the BBC Licence Fee? I fail to make the connection unless they have decided that the Beeb needs to be penalised for clogging up the bandwidth when they released the I-Player.

    Sounds like the nasty ISPs have been bending the Tory ears about the strain on their insufficient networks and despite being suitably told to get lost about underselling their products and trying to get the Beeb to make up the shortfall, they have sneaked one in through their political connections...

    1. Gordon is not a Moron

      why the Licence Fee?

      some of the money in the licence fee was hived off to cover the costs of the digital switch over, which should all becoming to an end shortly. The Tories are planning to redirect what they've refered to as "excess money" into funding this broadbandf lark instead of directly raising a tax to cover the cost, it's what the Tories have commonly refered to as a stealth tax in the past.

  9. Preacher

    Broadband doesn't have to come via a cable

    Ever heard of WiMax? It's been used very successfully in Ireland, where Eircom are even worse than BT.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge


      I remain sceptical about any wireless based solution. The advantage of a wired solution is far less contention in the local loop. In the case of all BT's offerings customers have a dedicated connection between their premises and the exchange. VM's cable service has contention with your street but that seems to be okay.

      With wireless solutions entire towns or housing estates are contending for that local loop. It's the same problem you get with 3G et al. 1Gb/s of bandwidth might sound great but if it's being shared between 1000 people all trying to watch iPlayer it ain't so clever.

  10. Number6

    Paired Exchanges

    Just make it a requirement that in order to be allowed access to a lucrative city exchange, they also have to fully provision a rural exchange. It's a bit like BT's Universal Service Obligation applied to the competition.

  11. Harry

    How about ...

    ... saying "you can use the existing ducts free of charge to save money on your new lines, but ... half the money you save must go into a pool to fund provision of ducts in less-economic areas ?

    1. frank ly

      @Harry re. How about....

      That idea sounds sensible, logical, fair and both technically and financially prudent. Snowball, welcome to hell.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Let us not forget...

    The only reason we dont have fibre to every door is a Conservatiove decision by Thatcher to not let BT do this...

    I cant find the original article but:



    In the mid-1980s the talk was all of wiring up every home with fibre optic cables with virtually unlimited capacity. BT offered to do a deal with the government under which it would build a nationwide fibre optic network in exchange for being allowed to deliver "entertainment" (TV, videos etc) along its lines.

    But Margaret Thatcher rejected that on the grounds that it simply extended BT's monopoly and opted instead to generate more competition for BT by establishing a cable TV industry.


    What benefit did we get from this decision? None. Why again are the Conservative party attacking BT, a British company that was doing well before they forced this false market on us... It surely cant have anything to do with the people contributing to Tory funds -- I refuse to believe this...

    1. Richard Scratcher

      Lest we forget

      Quite right.

      BT was once a world leader in fibre-optic technology and had the network in place to allow glass to replace copper and aluminium without digging up pavements. The Tory government of the day prohibited BT from supplying video services to homes. This was to allow other telcos into the market and provide competition.

      There was no WWW back then so BT had the only reason to upgrade its network taken away. Compare this to the situation in other European countries (such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain ,etc.) who are now way ahead of the UK in high-speed domestic connections.

      1. Steve X
        Thumb Down


        Competition is all very well, but there's a point when a regulated monopoly works better, especially when there's no way to distinguish between service supplied by each artificially-created "competitor". The problem is that when governments try to regulate a monopoly they tend to see nationalisation as the best sort of regulation. The argument goes along the lines that a monopoly shouldn't be allowed to make a big profit, so it can be run even better as break-even by the state. Efficiency soon goes out the window, and costs skyrocket.

        Not helped, of course, when the regulator (Ofcom) gets reinvented as a pimp, charged with selling off the assets it should be regulating.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Actually, we did, the country was crippled by the last labour govenment, one of the reasons people hate Maggie was because of the decisions needed to get us back on our feet, which ironically was more or less where we were when Labour took power again,

      had it not been for cost saving measures like that we would never have been as well off (reletively speaking that is) stopping the fiber role out and selling BT was a poor idea, but we needed the money, same with British Rail, sadly this time round after labours govenence we have no further assets to sell off, so what ever happens taxes are going up, stealth or otherwise, that is the future.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    universal bullshit

    So, the Tories are going to make BT roll over so CpW bring super-fast broadband to the masses are they? Well that's a marriage made in heaven. WTF? I suppose the only thing we should be grateful for is they haven't brought EDS, Beardie or Crapita into this scheme as well. Yet.

    Jesus H Christ it's going to be bad enough when the Tories get in and Phil Collins comes back from tax exile.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Duct capacity?

    As someone who actually pulls cables through ducts, I can safely say there is little chance of this taking off - there is bugger all space in the ducts.

  15. Oli 1
    Paris Hilton

    Open the ducts to ANYONE?

    So does this mean as long as i pay for duct access i could run my own bit of fibre direct onto the backbone of my local exchange, 1:1 connection?


    Pairs, because im not that thick...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont listen to these idiots

    Open ducts to rivals. Gormless tosser from rival damages BT wires fumbling about in their usual moronic way.

    Just look at the various contractors damaging water,gas,electricity and phone on a daily basis for an example.


    open bt ducts

    i say vote tories if people in the uk want decent broadband i say vote conservative and if people still vote labour then your as stupid as you look we have had labour for god knows how many years im sick of it lets get labour out. and if people stil want a kabour goverment stealing our money in the exspenses scandel then your just blind and stupid. vote for change

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "your as stupid as you look"

      Looking at the literacy level of your rant, you, apparently, ARE as stupid as you look.

  18. Andy 40

    Speed is a red-herring

    I'm pretty tired of all this harping on about increased speeds - the real issue is capacity. What use is a 50Mbps connection if I can only download 10G a month?

    When I signed up to Sky they were offering 40G a month at 'up to' 8Mbps. Ofcourse I could only get 2Mbps, but I was happy. Then they tell me they are 'improving' the service by upping the max speed to 10Mps (which makes no difference to the 99% of people who don't live next door to an exchange). What they only mention in the small print is that they are dropping the usage limit to 10G a month. Gee thanks Sky, please don't 'improve' my service any more will you?

    There is no use being able to watch streaming HD in iPlayer if you hit your download limit after watching 2 programs!


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is this all about?

    That is what I want to know. Why do domestic consumers need 20+MBaud if it does nothing more than give an alternative pipeline into the home for rubbish that masquerades as viewing choice? I would like to have the option of not paying for a service I wouldn't use.

    If it wasn't for some of bloat that comes with modern web pages then I'd be exceptionally happy to have a regular 4MBaud link.

    As a commercial enterprise, if I want high speed broadband - a service - I anticipate I will pay for it. I anticipate that the profit component from my charge will be used to subsidise a roll out to domestic consumers?

    Until such time as the (near) monopoly supplier has basic broadband across ALL its customers then any additional speed should be charged for on a user by user basis. But it's a business so they'll do what they want......

  20. mrfill
    Big Brother

    Tories move to Redmond?

    So little Dave's plan is to let a private company take the risk and invest in some great technological breakthrough and then in Stalinesque fashion force them to give it away to some other private companies who dont fancy shelling out the investment or taking the risk. No wonder the UK will never get a decent broadband backbone. Is Microsoft behind all this I wonder?

  21. Harry

    "there is bugger all space in the ducts."

    Probably because they're full of copper, which is wasting space.

    But if you took out the copper and replaced it by enough fibre to provide the same capacity, there would be plenty of room for MORE fibre.

    If the duct really is full, there's a temporary problem that you've got to provide service by some other means (eg wireless or an alternative route) for however long it will take to do the job, but its not insurmountable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As much as I agree...

      it would cost several hundred billion to replace the entire copper network with fibre and that doesn't even begin to take into account re-training and re-tooling the workforce or even the labour involved in such a vast operation (every single piece of network infrastructure would have to change significantly).

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Is this not what the French do?

    I think it's fairly close to that except France Telecom is still state owned, I've no idea who the other 2 suppliers are, but the average speed is meant to be about 20Mb. I'm sure some non domiciled Reg readers are in France and could enlighten us.

    I think a level playing field would demand reciprocity. If Virgin or Sky *really* are as good a deal (as they claim) they have nothing to fear. If they're not BT will be laying their cable into Virgin or Sky ducts.

    That's called competition in a free market.

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