TalkTalk Advances Dark Fibre Plans After Winning BT Cost Appeal

TalkTalk says Ofcom’s method for determining dark fibre access caps were miscalculated and is preparing business broadband products for October.

TalkTalk has said it will press ahead with plans to offer dark fibre to customers using Openreach infrastructure after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) upheld its appeal over the amount BT could charge for access.

Last March, Ofcom ordered BT to provide third party communications providers with access to Openreach’s dark fibre as part of the Business Connectivity Market Review (BCMR).

The review also proposed price controls for fibre and legacy business broadband connections and new obligations for Openreach to install and repair leased lines much more rapidly.


Openreach dark fibre

Currently, Openreach makes leased lines used by businesses and public sector organisations available to other companies on a wholesale basis, meaning the line and the equipment used to power the connection are bundled.

Ofcom claims the measures should result in better services, lower prices and more effective competition in the £2 billion market for leased lines, which are used by mobile operators and large enterprises.

However TalkTalk argued the methodology used to calculate the wholesale price caps did not take into account government rate rules. The CMA agreed and Ofcom must recalculate.

“We are pleased that the CMA has recognised that BT’s wholesale dark fibre price needs to be adjusted to ensure that it becomes the cost-effective alternative it was originally intended to be,” said Richad Thompson, TalkTalk Business commercial director.

“Whilst there is still much to be agreed, we are very excited about the opportunities dark fibre will bring to increasingly data-hungry businesses, and we’re looking forward to being able to unveil our plans for giving our customers access to the great value, high performance connectivity they’re crying out for.”

Dark fibre access is expected to be introduced in October, but BT still feels Ofcom’s decision is disproportionate and has its own appeal which is still yet to be ruled on.

“Separately we have lodged an appeal against certain elements of Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review because, like other companies who have invested in their own networks, we continue to believe that regulated dark fibre is the wrong approach,” it said earlier in the process. “We also disagree with the regulator’s definitions of the market.

“Given the UK already has a vibrant business connectivity market with a large, diverse and growing choice of providers, we believe this is a flawed piece of regulation that won’t encourage investment in new networks.”

CityFibre’s separate appeal about Ofcom’s choice of cost standard was rejected by the CMA.

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