Sky signs up to BT pole and duct sharing trial

Thursday, April 28th 2011
The initiative will test the "real costs" associated with sharing BT's infrastructure.
Sky signs up to BT pole and duct sharing trial
Sky has become the first major internet service provider (ISP) to sign up for a trial that will see it share BT's duct and pole infrastructure.

Access to the infrastructure is important for Sky if it plans to launch a fibre optic broadband product without investing heavily in building its own network.

However, a group of big-name ISPs and network operators - including TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Fujitsu and Geo - wrote a letter to communications minister Ed Vaizey earlier this month, arguing that BT's proposed terms, conditions and prices for use of its infrastructure need to be revised.

The companies stated the rates make it "unviable" for rival firms to compete with the telecoms giant and insisted it would be more cost-effective to roll out their own networks than use BT's ducts and poles.

Although Sky has questioned the pricing plans, it was not among the signatories on the letter and has now agreed to take part in a three-month pilot scheme that aims to assess the processes, practicalities and "real costs" associated with a sharing arrangement.

Fergus Crockett, product director at BT Openreach, said: "This trial will allow us to field-test the processes involved in allowing others to use our duct and pole infrastructure and build upon the accuracy of our assumptions before we launch the product commercially."

Business broadband provider Call Flow has also put its name down for the test.

An Ofcom review published in October 2010 called for BT to open up its infrastructure to rival ISPs in a bid to promote competition and investment in super-fast broadband services across the UK.

Explaining the decision, the regulator claimed it will allow BT's competitors to roll out fibre optic broadband to areas of the country that are not included in the telecoms giant's own plans.

Chief executive of Ofcom Ed Richards described the move as "a clear regulatory framework to promote investment, competition and innovation to enable as many consumers as possible to benefit from these exciting new services". 

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