back to article BT ordered to share telegraph poles for fast broadband

BT has been ordered to share access to ducts and telegraph poles with competitors who want to build their own faster broadband infrastructure. The Ofcom ruling means Sky, TalkTalk and other big rivals could cheaply deploy their own fibre optics between local exchanges and premises, providing more intense competition. It …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Time for a National Networking Network. Private won't work for this application. Three companies does not make a competition.

  2. john loader

    Won't help us In National Parks

    Whilst the drop wires are still allowed to be from pole to house, all main cables are underground in this National Park so pole use not an option. Electricity distribution is also generally underground so their poles not available either. Cabling ducts much more expensive than using poles and will lead to arguments if a duct is shared should damge occur to a BT cable whilst a competitor is installing their cable. Whither wireless?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open up the ducts...

    ... but as per usual OFCOM will make sure that only BT are forced to ensure coverage outside large urban areas, leading to a monopoly situation with regards to backhaul.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      We don't need more competition. We need BT to be transformed into non-profit cable management company and forced to upgrade the network and share it with anybody who wants to use it. Key word - NON-PROFIT.

      Works in Sweden with their communal utilities.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Telegraph Poles?

    dahditdah dahdahditdah

  5. Richard Scratcher


    A substantial percentage of faults on BT's network are caused by carelessness and poor workmanship as their technicians go about the business of installation and repair. BT has lots of policies and procedures to protect the integrity of its line plant but what happens when it has to share this responsibility?

    The more companies you have accessing this plant, the more faults you are going to create. I'm sure the urge to cut costs, take shortcuts and risks will be strong and the various companies will just point the finger at each other while the customer takes the pain of loss of service.

    Should be interesting!

  6. UkForest

    Errr... How about...

    "it believes it is commercially viable to improve internet access for about two thirds of the country, and called for government help to go further."

    The one's in rural Britian pay for it themselves! They don't moan when we get Gas piped to our houses and they have to have it delivered...

    You want Superfast broadband? Move somewhere that'll get it then!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sod off.

      Tell you what, if you don't want to help pay for broadband in the countryside, go and live in a different country. One where the villagers are treated like second class citizens (Old Iraq? Burma? N. Korea?). You'd fit right in.

      Do you have children? If not, are you aware that YOUR taxes are going to help pay for MY children's education?In the countryside? Ha Ha. Democracy at work.

      Jesus, some of you townies really are a tossers. We all live in Britain. Remember that next time you eat food. You know, the stuff produced in the countryside. Countryside dwellers don't complain that our taxes go on paying for deprived people in the cities to actually improve their lives, so why should townies complaining when their taxes are spent in improving the lives of those in the country. Grrrr.

      1. Craigness

        Land Tax

        How about paying for infrastructure with a Land Value Tax? As it is, Townies pay for Wurzels' broadband, Wurzels' houses become more desirable, Townies don't get to share in the capital gain. Land Value Tax makes sense in many ways and can help end the cycle of property speculation which cripples this country every 18 years; even Churchill was in favour.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: How about...

      "The one's in rural Britian pay for it themselves! They don't moan when we get Gas piped to our houses and they have to have it delivered..."

      Yes we do, but there's damned little we can do about it.

      But let's look at electricity. Imagine if the electricity companies were allowed to skip rural houses just to save a few quid. Imagine if a rural village dweller had to pay thousands in initial setup costs to get the electricity companies to extend the cables out by 5 miles from the nearest town.

      Or roads. Imagine if the rural dweller had to pay a grand in road tax to have his road "upgraded" from cracked tarmac to the latest shiny surface, because "it's too far".

      That's what we're talking about -- the internet is now a part of essential public infrastructure like roads and electricity. It is now far more important than the land line phone ever was -- just ask the Inland Revenue, they want the farmers to do their tax returns on line.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They allready do...

      Bloke not too far from here asked BT for a quote to get broadband, the reply was £47,000. Yes, FORTY-SEVEN-THOUSAND-POUNDS because his line was on a DACS multiplex with a water pumping station next door.

      IMO BT's current service level agreement should be changed from the current "voice and 14.4/28.8 fax" to at least some kind of ADSL provision. 2mbit would be a start.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Like the time

      We started getting phone calls for a Virgin subscriber. BT weren't interested 'cos it was the weekend but Virgin soon cut us off when they realised we could make phone calls on someone else's line. Broadband was dead tho'. The more incompetent, poorly trained 'technicians' you have poking about the more it is likely to happen.

      A poorly paid, highly trained (hopefully soon to retire) technician.

      Fail is seconded for the the powers that be.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      OK, second thoughts on this

      Lets only let those who actually know what they are doing play around with telephone lines.

      Yeh, I know, I'm dreaming again.

  7. Shinobi87
    Thumb Down


    Fair enough infrastructure should be paid for by ALL the providers! a set % a year of profit should go on developing infrastructure and that's across the board. but how come Virgin Media are allowed to hold onto their monopoly of cable? not really fair is it? I agree it should be nationalized, but be payed for by the providers, then they all get a share of it! that would allow competition

    1. OffBeatMammal

      Infrastructure as non-profit

      totally agree. for the basic infrastructure - be it fibre to the home, cellphone base stations,gas pipes or electricity cables the vast majority should be owned and operated by a non-profit and the commercial entities have no way to get planning permission or access rights to bypass it.

      open books, regular audits and a remit to drive standards and adopt new technologies as negotiated by "their" customers (ie the Telcos in this case) to provide an open, level playing field that doesn't see one company eg BT) penalsed for actually making the investment and others then leeching off it.

      Goes against my libertarian views but sometimes things are important enough to want/need a true nationalistic and long term viewpoint

  8. foo_bar_baz

    wires on poles

    How quaint. Almost steampunk.

    1. The Indomitable Gall


      That's a rubbish troll, as everyone here knows the speed boost of a decent dedicated medium.

      Back to class!

      <-- Error, can't decide between "FAIL" or "headmaster".

  9. Matt_W

    Wonder will this happen...

    A few years back when the telecoms sector was opened up here in Ireland eircom (or they might have been Telecom Eireann at the time) - the BT "equivalent" (i.e. used to be state owned, controlled all the cables etc) were told to allow competitors access to the ducting etc to run their cabling.

    Rumour has it that eircom knew this was about to happen so the engineers were told to go stuff the ducting with cable. (Not connected to anything)

    So then they duly opened it up, and sadly, no room to run any of the competitors cabling.

    All this is rumours, mind.

  10. Julian Bond


    Still trying to understand how BT is forced to offer LLU, wholesale and duct access to 3rd parties, but Virgin isn't.

    Thatcher and crew gave a broad set of incentives to the cable industry to build out a new layer of infrastructure. Perhaps it's time to offer the same sort of incentives to the nascent fibre industry to do the same thing.

    Maybe there's a Murdoch in there somewhere.

  11. Bilgepipe

    Thanks a lot, Thatcher

    BT should never have been privatised, that way profit and shareholders wouldn't be holding up the progress we need them to make. I'm half a mile from my exchange here in my "Wurzelly" little town, and I can't even get 2Mbs.

    More of Thatcher's legacy, hordes of privatised utilities incapable of doing what they are supposed to, like generate electricity or provide decent phone lines.

    1. Mark 65


      BT should have been privatised but should not have been left with the monopoly over the last mile. However the sale price wouldn't have been so good so there you have it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If Virgin can reach 40% of the population I'm not sure that's a monopoly. Isn't the problem just one of commercial reality? If running a fibre costs a few thousand pounds, it's easier to make a return if you can reach 100 customers with it instead of a handful. It doesn't much matter who installs and operates the cables, the cost is the cost. BT or Virgin or whoever can't borrow money to install infrastructure that will take 50 years to pay for itself. The rates people are prepared to pay for consumer DSL don't allow for any subsidy to people who are more expensive to serve.

        Either rates go up for everyone to allow such a subsidy (which is how the Universal Service Obligation for telephone lines is paid for) or people in rural communities get broadband quotes based on what the infrastructure costs to deploy, plus a commercial rate of return - which could be tens of thousands of pounds.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    M25 all over again

    Until people learn not to de-compress all their data it will be just like the M25 - it doesnt matter how many lanes there are your still doing 10mph if your lucky.

    Ask yourself this - can you really watch 4 HD films simultaneously?

    And as for the IT equivalent of railtrack.... is this part of the "bring back sunday" campaign?

  13. andrew mulcock

    Virgin pipes

    Round here,

    we have pipes in the ground from virgin, ( was NTL world )

    but BT lines direct in the earth.

    so here there is no competition, low speed twisted pair from BT or high speed cable from virgin.

    so will BT open reach be able to use Virgins ducts to offer a competitive edge.

  14. JMB


    Does it work both ways, do the companies have to give BT access to their fibre and any ducts they have?

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Interesting OFCOM strategy.

    BT *can* charge what they like, but if it seems excessive competitors have the right to lay their own cable. That *is* a market incentive. Note that according to the report at *least* 50% of all the ducts have spare capacity so BT cannot claim "We'd love to, but darn it they are *all* full used."

    In theory BT Openreach handles all this stuff but I *still* don't get why you would have to pay for a BT landline if you use other suppliers for everything. AFAIK the home service comes under BT Retail (or whatever you call them), The insistence you cannot switch the local loop hardware supplier looks a *lot* like a BT Retail subsidy to me.

    Thumbs up. This might actually get some movement.

  16. Da Weezil

    @ Uk Forest

    Funny you should mention gas, the stuff piped from our local terminals to you pampered urbanites runs through many areas here that are not on the mains. Those people just had to put up with all the upheaval to lay the line that bring it to you with zero benefit to themselves

    The same is true about the current recommissioning of the grid locally so they can build a new power station on the site of an old one. Our roads are covered with Mud as the contractors work on each and every pylon - of which this county has a huge number.. so maybe some decent broadband might actually be a fair exchange for the contribution we have made to the nation in terms of having our areas torn up, the trenches that are now in our roads and the rest of the upheaval we have suffered.

    Funny thing is we had an early fibre project conducted not 20 miles from here, and yet this place is still a market one rip off ghetto. We pay far higher costs due to the complete lack of

    competition - the sort of costs that would probably have many triple play loving townies crying in their Starbucks!

    Hopefully an OFCOM review might force BTw to lower prices to reflect the slow speeds and pathetic data caps on market one exchanges.. oh hang on I was forgetting the glove-puppet like relationship OFCOM enjoys with the BT group... no hope for us then... more high costs and slow speeds.

  17. Chris Hills

    Broadband fairness

    It would help if broadband access was charged fairly. For example, the Market Bosworth exchange only supports 576kbs. Given that Pipex charge £14.50 per month (plus vat) for "up to 8Mbs", it only seems far that someone on that exchange should pay £1 per month as they can only get 1/16 of the advertised speed.

    1. David Hicklin

      Re : Broadband fairness

      The only way to work this properly is to pay for what you use. That way the freeloaders would pay thier fair share. Add a media TAX and that is the entertainment industry sorted as well.

      Wait a min...what am I saying !!???

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      But the equipment costs what the equipment costs. Whether your line supports 16Mb or 16kb, the equipment is the same. It would be better for the supplier in the latter case to refuse to serve you rather than charge you a rental that doesn't cover the equipment costs.

      If I bought a Lamborghini but could only drive it at 70MPH because of UK speed limits, I wouldn't expect to only pay a third of the list price for it.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    A message from Farmer Palmer


  19. Andy Davies

    Related News...

    OfTran, the governments new commuter travel regulator have announced that all drivers of cars with four or more seats must offer free lifts to anyone wishing to travel with them...

    AndyD 8-)#

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Electricity pylons are still an option

    The technology is pretty well understood.

    Just a thought

    1. Terry Barnes


      Exactly how many people do you know who have an electricity pylon going to their house? You understand the difference between backhaul and last mile?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @Terry Barnes

    "Exactly how many people do you know who have an electricity pylon going to their house? You understand the difference between backhaul and last mile?"

    Yes. While they are not that common in towns I gather they're pretty common out in t'country. I'd bet most (all?) of the assorted villages that BT aren't bothered by. While that doesn't help with the local loop my impression is BT's backhaul infrastructure out in the boondocks is not good either.

    I mention them as an option. Fixed line of sight radio (Ionica) is also an option. Competitors do not have to be at the mercy of BT's allowing access. .

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