Sky and the business ISP Call Flow have become the first companies to sign up for access to BT's duct and pole infrastructure, albeit on a trial basis.
Such access is crucial for ISPs that want to deploy their own fibre without having to build an entire national network of ducts and poles to carry it. On Wednesday, BT said the two firms had signed up to "a three month trial intended to test the processes and practicalities, as well as the real costs, involved in deploying their own next-generation access (NGA) network through the Openreach duct and pole infrastructure".
"This trial will allow us to field-test the processes involved in allowing others to use our duct and pole infrastructure and build upon the accuracy of our assumptions before we launch the product commercially," BT Openreach product director Fergus Crockett said in a statement.
According to Crockett, Sky brings a "scale end-user customer base" to the trial, while Call Flow brings its experience as the UK's largest sub-loop unbundling provider.
BT is obliged by regulation to provide physical infrastructure access (PIA) to its rivals on reasonable terms, as the company already has a huge network of ducts and poles that do not require replicating. However, in early April a group of large ISPs, together with Fujitsu, made a complaint to the government that BT's terms were not fair, its PIA prices were too high and there may therefore be a boycott of the trial.
Sky was not a signatory to that letter, although it did add its name to a similar complaint that went to BT chief executive Ian Livingston at the same time. That letter stated that BT's PIA product, as proposed at that time, was "unfit to proceed into commercial use" due to the high prices being charged by the incumbent.
Crockett said on Wednesday that the trial would provide participating ISPs with "far greater clarity around the detail of deployment, and the likely costs involved, as well as giving them the chance to engage with us constructively around pricing and process development".
Sky did not say whether the terms had changed since the letter was sent to Livingston, but it told ZDNet UK that the trial was "small scale".
"It will help us understand future options and ensure we are well positioned should customers tell us they want fibre broadband," a Sky spokesperson told ZDNet UK.