Documents to download

Telephone pole

In the UK, most telephone cables that run between customer premises and telephone exchanges are operated by Openreach (which is part of the BT Group). Telephone cables can be used to provide broadband connections to the Internet, and Openreach provides wholesale services that other internet service providers (e.g. BT, Sky and TalkTalk) can buy in order to sell broadband access to consumers. Broadband access can also be provided using other types of infrastructure. Instead of telephone lines, copper television cables (operated by Virgin Media), fibre optic cables or radio signals can be used to transmit broadband signals.

Ofcom wants to give BT’s competitors better access to its telephone poles and underground ducts, in order to make it cheaper and faster for other companies to install their own fibre optic cables for high-speed Internet broadband. Ofcom says that this will encourage competition and lead to greater infrastructure investment.

Openreach has been required to offer competitors access to its ducts and poles since 2010. However, few companies have asked Openreach for access. In its original form, the process by which competitors could apply for access was time consuming and involved the applicant returning to Openreach for information or approval at several different stages. The Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator has been working with Openreach and five other operators to trial improvements to the access process, and some of these have already been made. Ofcom is currently conducting a consultation on how the access process can be improved further.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • POST has published 20 COVID-19 Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) for the UK Parliament. ARIs were identified using the input of over 1,000 experts. They were then ranked in order of interest to UK Parliament research and select committee staff, following internal feedback. Each ARI comes with a series of questions aiming to further break down each broad area. The ARIs focus on the impacts of the global pandemic and range from economic recovery and growth, to surveillance and data collection, long-term mental health effects, education, vaccine development, and the NHS.

  • Machine learning (ML, a type of artificial intelligence) is increasingly being used to support decision making in a variety of applications including recruitment and clinical diagnoses. While ML has many advantages, there are concerns that in some cases it may not be possible to explain completely how its outputs have been produced. This POSTnote gives an overview of ML and its role in decision-making. It examines the challenges of understanding how a complex ML system has reached its output, and some of the technical approaches to making ML easier to interpret. It also gives a brief overview of some of the proposed tools for making ML systems more accountable.

  • A heat network provides heating and hot water to an apartment, commercial site or series of buildings close together. It can also provide cooling. There is interest in using them to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings. This POSTnote looks at the technology of heat networks and their sources of heat. It looks at considerations when building new networks. It also outlines a potential future market framework.