A massive change is coming that should increase the number of people being switched to faster full-fibre broadband later this year. BT’s Openreach network is rolling out ultrafast broadband throughout the UK. They are offering steep discounts for other Internet Service Providers, (ISPs), who decide to switch to this new, future-proofed network.
Ofcom is currently reviewing the new pricing system, called Equinox. It is scheduled to be live in October 2021. This discount may mean that some ISPs will be able to rent broadband infrastructure through Openreach at a fraction of the usual cost.
Many popular broadband providers, such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone use Openreach networks. This means that if they go ahead with the plan, fibre broadband may be much more affordable for them. Only one condition: ISPs need to take advantage of new fiber infrastructure in order to get the discount.
This is a big incentive for Vodafone, TalkTalk, Sky and Sky to move their customers as quickly as possible to faster broadband. Customers who are experiencing slow internet speeds at home will likely see a significant performance increase.
Future-proofed fiber connections are 10-20 times faster than copper cables. The cables are also easier to maintain and won’t break under heavy usage.
The latest investment in fibre broadband by BT is the Equinox discount program. BT believes that the new pricing will incentivize more ISPs towards full fibre broadband (FTTP) and allow them to pass the savings on to customers.
What does BT have in store? It has the ambitious goal of connecting 80 percent British households and businesses to fiber by 2026. With just 21 percent of homes reached by full-fibre-to-premises, or FTTP, connections today, that means a big acceleration is needed – and what better way than to slash prices?
The plan has its flaws, however. Virgin Media O2 accused BT in a complaint filed to Ofcom of trying to outcompete its competitors. Openreach’s low prices will cause consumers to shun ISPs that are smaller.
Virgin Media O2 stated in its complaint: “Openreach will subsequently have an incentive to surgically target additional discounts, so that to increase the competitive disadvantage for the alt-nets (small ISPs]”
The Independent Networks Cooperative Association, which represents a number of broadband providers that don’t rely on Openreach’s infrastructure, told Total Telecom the scheme will “almost certainly lead to medium- to long-term consumer harm, due to it having caused a reduction in competitive fibre infrastructure investment and deployment, reducing choice and innovation and likely resulting in higher prices for end consumers”.
Ofcom will likely approve the plan, despite these concerns. In a provisional statement, Ofcom stated that it didn’t believe there would be any “material adverse effect on competition.”
The government could get a boost in fibre goals if the new pricing is approved. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of 2019, promised that every household in the country would have FTTP access by 2025.
However, this plan quickly became a resounding failure due to both the inconvenience of digging roads and the high cost of updating the network.
The government is now so desperate to roll out fibre it’s splashing out PS4m on a trial to run fibre cables through water pipes in hard-to-reach areas.
Matt Warman, Digital Minister said about the plan that “the cost of digging roads and land is one of the greatest obstacles telecom companies have to connect hard-to reach areas with better broadband. But beneath our feet is a huge network of pipes which reaches virtually all buildings in the country.
We are asking Britain’s most innovative innovators for help in using this infrastructure to fulfill a double purpose: to provide fresh, clean water and lightning-fast internet connectivity.
Publiated at Tue 17 August 2021, 07:11:48 +0000