Five companies have signed up to trial new duct and pole sharing processes with BT Openreach, as Cityfibre hit out at Ofcom for “poor and inconsistent” regulation.
BT only named three of the communications providers - Callflow, NextGenAccess and WarwickNet – that are taking part in the new trials.
They enable the companies to carry out more work themselves without seeking additional permission from Openreach.
For example, they will be able to install fibre cables “immediately”, clear any blockages they find and install new distribution joints inside Openreach junction boxes.
The trials have been developed by a new industry working group that began work last November.
Although such access has been offered to companies since 2011, the UK regulator called for BT to open its broadband network further as part of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications in February.
The review resisted calls to structurally separate Openreach from BT.
Last month, new Openreach CEO Clive Selley told journalists that there had not been “remarkably more” requests from customers to build their own networks since Ofcom’s ruling.
Commenting on the new trials, Selley said: “This is an important step which gives greater access to our network and encourages other companies to join Openreach in building better, broader and faster communications services for the whole UK.
“We hope that these new, simpler processes – which have been designed and developed in partnership with the industry – will encourage more companies to invest, particularly in parts of the UK that aren’t already served by high-speed networks.”
Meanwhile, CityFibre confirmed that it has lodged an appeal with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal in relation to Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review, which focused on leased lines used by enterprises, including mobile operators.
The review concluded that Openreach must speed up installation and repairs, and reduce prices.
CityFibre is unhappy with the “dark fibre” rules that enable service providers to connect their own equipment to Openreach’s network at controlled prices.
The company wants to offer itself up as an alternative to Openreach but feels this is threatened by the regulation.
Mark Collins, Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at CityFibre, said: “As a major investor in the UK telecom infrastructure market, working to transform digital connectivity across the country, we need to ensure that CityFibre and other fibre optic infrastructure builders can invest against the background of a fair and balanced regulatory regime.
“We believe Ofcom is implementing poor and inconsistent regulation, and we have a duty to robustly contest their decisions and policies in the normal course of business – especially where they conflict with stimulating long-term investment in the critical digital infrastructure which the UK so badly needs.”