Ofcom seeks to encourage telco fibre investment

The regulator has announced it is looking at ways to encourage telcos to invest in next-generation fibre networks

Ofcom has revealed a plan to establish what must be done to encourage telcos to invest in next-generation fibre networks.

The regulator is also aiming to raise awareness around super-fast broadband and what consumers can expect from fibre networks.

One area Ofcom is looking at is ensuring pricing freedom for telcos, to reflect the risk of deploying fibre and to allow them to generate sufficient return on investment.

Understanding the scope for competition, based on access to existing telecoms infrastructure, is another area the regulator will be focusing on.

Ofcom will also provide clearer information to investors on how it will be flexible around existing rules — originally designed for copper implementation — regarding fibre rollout.

Ofcom is also working on ensuring that newly built homes are equipped with fibre connections rather than traditional copper. Such deployments are already happening in Belfast, Kent, London and Salford.

BT recently pledged to spend £1.5bn on next-generation broadband, as long as Ofcom changes the regulatory environment to make such investment worthwhile.

Ofcom has said the rollout of fibre-based broadband — which could offer speeds of up to 100Mbps — should bring fast web access to communities previously unable to benefit from high-speed internet access. As a result, the action plan will also cover the role that the public sector could play in targeting regions where telcos are less likely to install new networks.

An Ofcom consumer panel recently recommended that areas that missed out on the first wave of broadband rollout should be the first to benefit from next-generation networks.

Chinyelu Onwurah, head of telecoms technology at Ofcom, said: "These are very exciting times for the telecoms industry. The move to super-fast networks is probably the biggest development in telecoms infrastructure we've ever seen."

She added: "Ofcom really wants to know what Britain thinks about super-fast broadband and kick off a debate."