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It’ll come as no surprise to many, but a ruling yesterday by the Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator means you won’t be able to buy access to Openreach’s Dark Fibre for the foreseeable future. This is the latest twist in a long running saga that started with Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review last year and which hit a major stumbling block last month when the Competition Appeals Tribunal ruled in favour of BT, stating that “Ofcom made a string of errors when it drew up the rules for a new market in dark fibre”. Under Ofcom’s directive, Openreach were due to launch their Dark Fibre Access (DFA) product this October, with pricing and terms published by the end of September, but this of course won’t happen now.

So what now for the future of dark fibre infrastructure? Is this decision the best possible outcome in the interests of supporting competition for the benefit of all? We think so.

This ruling does not affect alternative sources of dark fibre, whereby ISPs can gain physical access to an infrastructure provider’s fibre optic cables and ducts to light their own services. CityFibre, our parent company, is one such supplier that is recognised as better priced, more flexible (both operationally and commercially) and of course far more agile and willing to deliver than Openreach.

CityFibre is one of the UK’s largest suppliers of dark fibre infrastructure; their growth and proven ability to attract investment (including the £200m of capital raised in July 2017), demonstrates that the competitive market for business connectivity, including commercial supply of dark fibre, is alive and well and not in need of disproportionate and unnecessary regulatory interference.

Mark Collins, CityFibre’s Director of Strategy & Public Affairs, had these words for Ofcom: “Rather than continuing to drive increased dependency on Openreach, we suggest that Ofcom goes back to the drawing board to focus on delivering more appropriate and proportionate remedies that help meet its own strategic objectives to support increased competitive investment in full fibre for the UK.”

Have your say!

Do you think this move was inevitable? What words of advice do you have for Ofcom as they return to the drawing board? How might infrastructure competition be tackled? Whatever your views, leave a comment below.

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