Like many in our industry 01T welcomed OFCOM’s decision to mandate the Openreach division of BT in 2016, to offer telecommunications providers like ourselves access to Dark Fibre. We saw this as a huge step forward in allowing an innovative provider like 01T to offer new services to our customers. Initially we were encouraged that Openreach embraced its obligations to develop this service ready for launch in October 2017. We planned to match this date by being ready to offer a whole new range of Point to Point, Ethernet, Optical and Internet connectivity to businesses both in the Public and Private sectors.
It is therefore a huge disappointment that in July 2017 the Competition Appeals Tribunal ruled in favour of a case that BT (Openreach’s parent) had brought in challenge to OFCOM’s 2016 decision. The full details of why this judgement was arrived will not be known until sometime in September. We believe that BT brought a set of highly technical arguments to bear around market definitions. This approach misses the bigger picture and does not augur well for a more independent Openreach that has been promised to the industry and its consumers. We believe that it is fundamentally not the role of the Openreach infrastructure division to force the market to buy its managed services. Instead the majority of the industry expects to be offered access to core network components upon which it can build differentiated services upon.
01T’s plans have not changed, though timescales may have done. We believe that access to Openreach Fibre should be offered voluntarily by Openreach in the near future. It is a critical test of whether change has really occurred from what BT has said will be a ‘more independent Openreach business’?. If this does not happen we welcome OFCOM’s statement that they will be reviewing the reasons for the Tribunal outcome as they still believe access to Dark Fibre is a critical enabler for the market. In the meantime, any services 01T constructs for our customers based on Openreach’s managed products will come with a guarantee. This will offer migration to Dark Fibre, along with the benefits that we can bring as soon as the current impasse is resolved.
Read more about Dark Fibre here - https://01t.co.uk/dark-fibre
General Manager – Dark Fibre Division