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Wednesday 29 July, 2020

OFCOM

Ofcom: Connecting rural areas to fibre broadband

RNS Number : 2283U
Office of Communications
29 July 2020
 

29 July 2020

 

Connecting rural areas to faster fibre broadband

 

Ofcom has today published updated proposals to help bring faster, more reliable broadband to rural areas, in light of BT's new commitment to extend its fibre network to a further 3.2 million rural properties.

 

Today's proposals are part of our review of wholesale telecoms for residential and business services in the UK. This sets out how Ofcom will regulate BT for the period from April 2021 to March 2026.

 

As part of our review, we set out proposals in January on how we plan to create the best possible conditions for companies to invest in full-fibre broadband so customers in all parts of the UK can enjoy the benefits it provides.

 

In more sparsely-populated rural areas, where there is limited prospect of multiple networks being built, we plan to incentivise investment by BT's network arm, Openreach - the only operator with a large-scale rural network.

 

In January, we said that if BT were to provide a firm commitment to build fibre in these parts of the country, we would consider allowing it to include these investment costs in its prices upfront. If not, we would only allow it to recover these costs after it lays new fibre.

 

Openreach has since committed to build fibre to at least 3.2 million rural properties. So we are consulting on revised proposals on how we will set Openreach's wholesale prices for these areas. If Openreach does not meet this commitment, we can set lower wholesale prices in future to reflect this.

 

Public funding will also be vital in connecting rural areas. The UK Government is planning to invest £5bn to reach the most challenging 20% of the UK and we are working closely with Government on its plans for this.

 

Today's consultation closes on 16 September, and we intend to publish the final decisions on our wholesale telecoms review before the new regulation takes effect in April 2021.

 

Further details can be found on the Ofcom website:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-2/bt-commitment-area-3-fibre-network

 

ENDS


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