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BT: We'll open fibre network if other ISPs follow

Telecom giant wants level playing field

BT wants all UK ISPs to make their infrastructures available to each other in a bid to increase broadband coverage in the country.

The Conservative Party recently said the only way to provide every Brit with superfast broadband would be if BT opened up its fibre network to competitors.

However, BT revealed it has been in talks with Ofcom since 2007 over the possibility of letting other ISPs access its infrastructure. The telecom giant said it could go ahead with the plan, provided other ISPs also open up their infrastructures.

"Although it's unlikely to be the silver bullet to get fibre to every home, open access to all ducts, not just ours, might help BT and others extend coverage and so we would like to see a future government support such a move," BT's chief executive, Ian Livingston, told the Financial Times.

BT said that the move would reduce competition unless the ISP was also allowed access to rival infrastructures.

"BT is taking a considerable degree of commercial risk by rolling out fibre and it will be interesting to see if others are willing to join us," he said.

However, with rivals Virgin Media and TalkTalk conducting their own trials of superfast broadband provided by fibre cables, they may not be interested in accessing BT's networks.

According to Tom Williams, head of operations at BE Broadband, the move will help the ISP and other businesses better assess the case for fibre deployment.

"Although we will wait until BT confirms this move before revealing any of our own plans, one thing for certain is that the UK lags behind most of Europe now in terms of rolling out fibre broadband, which can’t persist for longer," said Williams.

"Consumers will and have started to demand more and more speed for the broadband and I believe we are already seeing more consideration in buying behaviour in the broadband market."

Williams said consumers were looking for unfettered access to their digital lives and this will only happen with the opening up of BT's infrastructure and the introduction fibre to the majority of the UK.

See also: BT launches 40Mbps broadband package

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