Openreach to Trial Fibre Nomination Scheme

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Openreach has announced a new trial whereby it will allow communications providers (CPs) to nominate exchanges for fibre enablement as part of its superfast fibre roll out. Whilst Openreach has always taken CP views into account when deciding where to deploy fibre, this is the first time that CPs can request a specific exchange be upgraded.

The trial will run from September to December 2010 with participating CPs being permitted to nominate up to six exchanges each in return for certain commercial commitments. The nominated exchanges will be included in the seventh phase of Openreach’s roll out plan which is due to be revealed in early 2011 with exchanges being upgraded for fibre in late 2011/early 2012. The trial is only open to CPs that are already buying Openreach’s Generic Ethernet Access (GEA) product.

Openreach is planning to enable fibre broadband from exchanges serving two thirds of UK premises (approximately 16.5 million premises) by 2015 but has only revealed the first five phases of its deployment plan to date. These phases cover approximately 6 million premises. Phase 6 is due to be announced in the coming weeks so the nominated exchanges will be included in phase 7.

In return for requesting an exchange be included in phase 7, CPs will be asked for certain commitments from Openreach. These are as follows:

If an exchange is deemed to be viable for commercial deployment, the CP must guarantee that ten per cent of premises will be using its fibre broadband within a year. If this doesn’t happen, the CP will be liable for any costs incurred by Openreach in amending its deployment plan.

If an exchange is deemed to be in an area that isn’t viable for commercial deployment the CP will be asked to fund any additional deployment charges faced by Openreach. These charges will vary from exchange to exchange and will only be provided following a detailed survey that will cost the CP £5,000 per exchange.