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BT restarts full fibre talks with networks after Ofcom ruling

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Ben Woods
·1 min read
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Openreach engineer
Openreach engineer

BT has reignited discussions with Vodafone and TalkTalk over plans for the companies to use its ultra-fast fibre network.

The telecoms giant had been working on agreements with broadband retailers that would hand them long-term access to its network. Those talks were shelved last year, however, after BT became concerned that it could breach competition law.

But the discussions have been fired up again after the regulator announced a new regime last month. Ofcom gave BT’s broadband infrastructure arm Openreach more certainty by ruling that it could charge higher prices for full fibre over the next decade.

Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk, said she was “pleased to be working constructively with Openreach on a sensible pricing structure” that supports the take up of full fibre.

“As the pandemic has shown, Britain has never needed fast, reliable connectivity more,” she added. “But the country’s move to full fibre will only succeed if it’s available at an affordable price, particularly given the economic impact of Covid.”

The move is part of a plan to wean the country off the older, more unreliable copper broadband network by keeping prices on those services flat before shutting it down entirely.

Openreach’s fibre deals with broadband retailers could provide an early test for Ofcom’s new regime after it vowed to restrict long-term discount agreements if they stopped competitors from investing.

An industry source said Openreach has opened talks over a national fibre deal with a number of broadband retailers beyond Vodafone and TalkTalk.