Openreach’s fibre broadband discounts do not raise competition concerns, says Ofcom
The broadband infrastructure firm announced plans last month to offer lower wholesale prices to other internet providers for access to its fibre network, as part of its Equinox 2 scheme.
But network rivals raised competition concerns and argued that Openreach, which is part of telecoms giant BT Group, was using its dominant market position to price out smaller infrastructure companies.
Ofcom was notified of the proposals and “carefully assessed” the offer – considering the interests of consumers, and the impact on competitors and other broadband providers.
But the telecoms regulator said on Friday that it does not think it should intervene to prevent Openreach from introducing Equinox 2, as it does not consider the proposals to be anti-competitive.
An Ofcom spokesperson said on Friday: “Our overriding objective is to bring faster, better broadband to people across the UK – promoting competition and investment in high-speed networks, and making sure there’s a level playing field for all companies.
“With this in mind, we’ve assessed Openreach’s proposed new pricing plans and, based on the evidence available to us so far, we don’t consider them to be anti-competitive.
“We’ve set out our provisional reasons for this and are now seeking views from all interested parties, which we’ll take into account before making a final decision.”
The regulator is inviting responses to its consultation by March 4, before deciding how to proceed.
It is aware of the concerns that Openreach lowering full-fibre prices could “act as a barrier to competitors’ entry and expansion in the market”, Ofcom stressed.
It is therefore gathering evidence to decide whether the issue should be investigated in more detail.
Openreach is due to roll out its new pricing offer for full-fibre broadband from April 1.
Ofcom is the regulator for communications services that millions of consumers rely on each day. It was established to ensure consumers get the best deal from their broadband, home phone and mobile services.
It oversees the universal postal service, which means Royal Mail must deliver and collect letters six days a week, and parcels five days a week, at an affordable and uniform price throughout the UK.
It provides advice and information to thousands of people each year, through its website and call centre. It registers complaints from people and businesses, which helps it to take action against firms which fail to provide satisfactory customer service. It also has oversight of the airwaves used by wireless devices like cordless phones. Ofcom is independent and funded by fees paid to it by the companies it regulates.