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WarwickNet Plans Broadband Network Expansion via UK Code Powers

Friday, August 15th, 2014 (11:10 am) - Score 842
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Ofcom has today proposed to grant Code Powers to ISP WarwickNet Ltd., which would make it simpler for them (e.g. easier approval for street works) to roll-out their “superfast” and “ultrafast” broadband network by, among other things, making use of BTOpenreach’s cable duct and pole sharing (DPS) products.

At present WarwickNet supplies broadband services to business parks and residents located near those parks around Warwickshire and other Midlands counties (i.e. specifically those areas that the big ISPs tend to shun), although it believes that this can be done “more cost effectively and efficiently than any of its incumbent competitors” with the right powers.

By comparison the current situation forces WarwickNet to apply for individual licences under section 50 of the New Road and Street Works Act 1991, which is a time consuming and thus costly process. In addition, the ISP states that some private landlords are able to stop the provision of their service to business parks by “delaying or failing to respond to [their] access requests“.

Ofcoms Statement

The Applicant asserts that business parks often suffer from low broadband speeds and, without the Applicant’s intervention, would not be afforded the opportunity to obtain improved services.

The Applicant states that this is because business parks are considered to be low density, uneconomic projects by incumbent providers. The Applicant considers, therefore, that it is delivering a substantial benefit to the public and to UK businesses by providing high speed broadband services to previously neglected areas.

For these reasons, Ofcom considers that granting the Applicant Code powers would benefit the public.

Apparently WarwickNet’s network is currently “made up of roadside cabinets and associated duct infrastructure“, with fibre optic lines being leased from other providers (their cabinets and underground footway chambers are used to connect to third party networks). But sometimes the ISP cannot reach a provider’s network and so on those occasions it deploys underground ducting (i.e. conduits) from its cabinets in order to establish a connection point.

In the long run WarwickNet said that they’d like to make use of BT’s cable duct and pole sharing products (we assume this means Physical Infrastructure Access [PIA]), although these are only available to ISPs with Code Powers (hence the application). This would also help to expand their network into new areas around the United Kingdom, which appears to be part of the plan.

Ofcom has opened a consultation on the matter, which will run until 15th September 2014, and they almost never reject such requests.

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