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All of our Apprentices get the opportunity to experience a variety of roles within Entanet as part of our training and development programme. We’ve recently welcomed Dan Saxon, a Customer Service Apprentice, for work experience within our marketing team. Dan chose to write about the recent ruling on Openreach’s Dark Fibre Access. Read on for his view.

The Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) ruled last week on Openreach’s appeal against opening its dark fibre assets to competitors which, if you recall, was one of the outcomes of Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review last year. Ofcom took a close look at the leased lines market out of concern for a lack of competition, which it said had been brought about by Openreach making it operationally difficult and economically unsound for competitors to make use of existing dark fibre. Had the ruling not been appealed, Openreach would have been forced to provide access to dark fibre by October this year. Instead, the determination by CAT that “Ofcom made a string of errors when it drew up the rules for a new market in dark fibre” effectively extinguishes any chance of that happening. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Openreach has been reticent to open up its dark fibre purely on commercial grounds for some time, giving alternative infrastructure providers the opportunity to increase their presence and reputation for being everything that Openreach is not. There’s a good chance then that this decision will work in the favour of these alt-nets once again.

The Openreach appeal was just one of three lawsuits brought against Ofcom on its dark fibre access order. Both TalkTalk and our parent company CityFibre submitted their own independent cases before the Appeals Tribunal, with CityFibre stating that Ofcom was pushing prices too low to encourage competition, particularly to new market entrants. Mark Collins, CityFibre’s Director of Strategy and Public Affairs, said:

“We welcome the Tribunal’s decision, which is a very positive outcome for all companies investing in full fibre infrastructure.

We have consistently argued that Ofcom’s regulatory framework must, at its core, support competitive investment across the UK’s digital infrastructure. Our decision to appeal the BCMR was based on our strong belief that Ofcom’s BCMR regulation did not support this objective.

We look forward to a productive dialogue with Ofcom going forward, shaping a regulatory environment that encourages investment, supports competition and delivers better outcomes for enterprises and businesses.”

What next?

Honestly, your guess is as good as ours. Ofcom, clearly bruised by the outcome of the Appeal, needs time to consider its options before moving forward. It might be the case that the BCMR needs to be re-done from scratch or it may appeal CAT’s decision. Watch this space for any long term outcomes. In the short term, it’s fair to say that BT won’t be opening its dark fibre any time soon.

Have your say!

Tell us your view on the Tribunal’s decision to send Ofcom back to the drawing board in its appeal over Openreach. Do you believe that Ofcom is right to try to improve competition in the market through Dark Fibre Access, or do you think that the new alt-nets like CityFibre are disrupting the market enough by their own merit? Let us know what you think with a comment below.

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