Ofcom, the government regulator for broadband, has finished a review of the industry. It now wants to make sure we’re all getting a good deal and decent service from our broadband providers.
The UK’s broadband infrastructure is run by BT-owned Openreach, which other providers like Sky and TalkTalk have to pay to use. Those companies say BT hasn’t invested enough in the infrastructure, which means they’re not able to offer customers better services.
Opening up Openreach
To try and improve things, Ofcom has told BT that it must make the Openreach network more accessible to its rivals so that they can make their own upgrades.
In practical terms, it means Openreach would have to offer access to its telegraph poles and ‘ducts’ - the small, underground tunnels that carry telecoms lines, to other companies.
Using these, rival providers will be able to build their own fibre networks, connected directly to homes and offices, rather than relying on what’s available through BT currently.
Our broadband expert Kate Devine says the changes could be great news for broadband users.
She said: “The opening up of Openreach’s networks is a positive move, which will encourage investment in fibre infrastructure and ultimately result in better speeds, more choice of providers and better service for customers.”
‘Easier for customers’
Opening up Openreach isn’t the only thing Ofcom has recommended. It plans to change the way customers are treated when they don’t get the service they’ve paid for and it also wants to introduce league tables to show customers how broadband providers compare.
Kate said: “The introduction of performance tables and automatic refunds for poor service provide add an additional layer of transparency, making it easier for customers to understand the broadband choices available. It’s another step towards making it easier to switch to the best value deal.”
Elsewhere, the report this week also unveiled plans to improve mobile phone coverage by working with the government to deliver a new “universal right to fast, affordable broadband for every household and business in the UK”
Ofcom also plans to make sure rural areas get a fair crack of the whip when it comes to setting up new spectrum licences for mobile phone coverage in the future, meaning your signal should be better if you’re out in the sticks.
Get up to speed
You can find out how to improve your broadband speed by watching our short video below.