Vodafone could help fund FTTP broadband in urban areas with Openreach in what would be a first for the UK market
Vodafone is discussing the possibility of co-investing in fibre to the premise (FTTP) network technology with Openreach in what would be a first for the UK.
BT’s rivals had continually argued that they were unable to invest in faster broadband because of the dominant position of Openreach, which itself was disinclined to build out FTTP because BT wanted to ‘sweat’ its copper assets.
However the newly independent Openreach (albeit still owned by BT) now plans to deliver ‘ultrafast’ broadband to 12 million premises by the end of the decade using a combination of G.Fast, which speeds up copper lines, and FTTP.
It has also called for the likes of Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone to put their money where their mouth is by co-investing in a “widescale” rollout of FTTP which could reach as many as 12 million homes and businesses.
According to The Telegraph, the talks between Openreach and Vodafone are “early but serious”, and would see the Newbury-based operator focus on urban areas rather than other parts of the country.
Vodafone has long been an advocate of co-investment in other countries, having done so in Spain and Ireland for example, and improved network infrastructure in the UK would give it a boost ahead of the launch of 5G.
Silicon understands one of the issues would be regulation. Openreach is legally required to offer access to its network on a wholesale basis, however this would be a disincentive for Vodafone to invest. It has been suggested Ofcom might be open to giving Vodafone a period of exclusivity and then faster speeds once this has expired.
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“We’ve said before that a new, more independent Openreach is open to co-investment models,” an Openreach spokesperson told Silicon.
“We’re currently consulting with all of our wholesale customers on the case for a large-scale ‘full fibre’ broadband network. As part of this we’re asking about their potential interest in different forms of commitment to new Fibre-to-the-Premises infrastructure, including co-investment.
“As with all our consultation processes, responses are confidential.
“We’re optimistic that this approach will lead to greater openness and collaboration across our industry, which will in turn achieve better outcomes for connected homes, businesses and people throughout Britain.”
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