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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 2,480

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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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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