Ofcom proposes access to BT's fibre

LONDON Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:36am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rival Internet service providers will have access to BT's (BT.L) new fibre lines via a so-called virtual network or they could lay their own fibre in the telecom firm's ducts under new proposals from the regulator.

Ofcom said on Tuesday it would propose allowing competitors to have access to new fibre lines laid by BT, at a price set by the former state monopoly in order to enable a fair rate of return.

And Internet service providers who want even more control of the system could access BT's underground ducts and overhead telegraph poles to lay their own fibre because the regulator believes there is available capacity.

The two proposals are designed to increase competition within the nascent superfast broadband market, which requires a fibre network.

"Super-fast broadband is starting to be a reality in the UK, with very significant advances in recent months in the speeds some providers are offering," Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said in a statement.

"Ofcom's proposed regulatory framework is intended to support the next phase of development by promoting investment, competition and innovation for consumers across the UK."

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by James Davey)

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