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UK Power Networks Refutes BT Claim that it’s a Monopoly in the Fibre Space

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 (7:56 am) - Score 2,332
uk mains power and electricity

UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity to 8 million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England, has angrily refuted claims by the CEO of BTOpenreach, Liv Garfield, that it’s acting as a “monopoly” by making some of BT’s street cabinets too commercially unviable to upgrade with superfast broadband (FTTC).

Garfield recently accused UKPN of being “the only people who can power cabinets” in the fibre market and criticised the group for imposing unexpectedly high power supply costs on “tens and tens” of its street cabinets, which had made them “non-commercially viable” to upgrade. The Openreach boss noted that the costs for related work could sometimes jump from around £2k to £25k.

But a spokeswoman for UKPN told ISPreview.co.uk that it “refutes the suggestion that we are acting as a monopoly in the Connections market” and crucially noted that it was not the only company capable of providing “the services required to power BT’s broadband cabinets“.

A Spokeswoman for UKPN told ISPreview.co.uk:

Since this work began in 2009 the civil works, such as excavating the trench and installing the new service cables, has always been open to competition. To help customers get the best rates we proactively introduced ‘jointer only’ and ‘rent a jointer’ options so that the customer could carry out the contestable works (the ‘dead’ cable laying and any excavations and reinstatement works i.e. the civil works) in the most cost-efficient way.

As part of our commitment to competition, Ofgem has recently approved our request to enable any suitably accredited independent connection providers to carry out the live jointing of services to mains, which had previously not been open to competition. BT is but one of a large number of customers that are able to benefit from these arrangements ie) all elements of this work are open to full competition.”

According to UKPN, each connection is “priced on its own merits” and the wide variation in prices are apparently “due to factors beyond our control“, such as the distance of the kiosk from the nearest electricity main, the need to extend the electricity network and costs that they incur and “have to pass on“, such as traffic management (no not the internet kind), road closures, parking bay suspension and lane rental etc.

UK Power Networks went on to say that it carries out more than 130,000 connections to their electricity network every year and is “committed to meeting our customers’ new connection needs“. Furthermore the group said that it now planned to contact BT in order to discuss the matter in further detail.

Meanwhile BT itself is busy deploying about 30,000 FTTC street cabinets, which should bring superfast broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps (Megabits per second) to 66% of the UK by Spring 2014 (passing 19 million premises).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar Christopher

    Does anyone else see the irony in BT/Openreach crying “Monopoly”?

    • Avatar dragoneast

      I don’t think the issue is about name calling. It’s about trying to reduce avoidable costs which is in the interests of all of us: yes I’m sure there are national initiatives in hand, but the co-operation doesn’t always get down to the local level (in the same way as some local OpenReach engineers can be more helpful than others). The mere existence of theoretical competition or “you can get someone else to do it” doesn’t automatically make costs disappear like some magic wand. One of the problems of the UK’s privatisations is that there are a lot of agencies with their fingers in the money pie, even for the most basic of jobs.

    • Avatar Timeless

      while l agree, it can go either way..

      take 4G its massively over priced yet for the same service over in the states its all you can eat bandwidth hell you can use the phone for hours and it cost next to nothing.

  2. All we need is for the Power company to begin publishing actuals. There will be a norm emerge for 90% of the time, and the remainder can be negotiated. At £25k perhaps FTTP for the interested 40 customers would be a better, or a 4G service configured to work with a CPE device like an antenna.

    It would be interesting to see how many are at the £2k mark? Keep probing! Are Bt charging overheads on top to BDUK? How much are these/

    • Avatar Bob

      It seems to me that the vast majorityof Power installs are at the bottom end of the range and that very few are at the £25K end and these are presumably down to unplanned issues arising or a long run for the power,

      From the companies responsemost of it is open to competition with it apearing that the company only has to make the connection to the live cable so BT’s contractors could dig the trench and put the ductiing in and cable.

  3. Avatar SURREY HILLS

    Re fibre connections it’s perhaps interesting to note that the additional power required is probably a minimal consideration mainly within the exchanges. The average FTTC power consumption probably varies with the cabinet temperature as well as the amount of equipment it contains. I’d guess at around 1/2 a Kilowatt or perhaps a little more. Are my sums wildly out or does that produce an increased power consumption of around 15 Megawatts p.a. ?

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