BT will be forced to accommodate virtual fiber operators on its UK network until full unbundling is possible following a European Commission ruling yesterday.
The commission said Ofcom’s proposal to mandate virtual access to BT’s fiber network was a good short-term alternative to full unbundling, and would level the playing field for alternative carriers in the UK broadband market, which in turn would ensure healthy competition when next-generation networks are deployed.
However, it said full unbundling should be implemented as soon as was “technically and economically possible.”
Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes approved the proposals, despite campaigning for less local regulation in Europe’s telecoms markets.
"In this specific instance, virtual unbundling seems the best option to safeguard competition and enable consumers to benefit from a wider range of services provided over next generation fiber infrastructure,” she said.
Kroes accepted Ofcom’s argument that BT’s network architecture made it difficult to offer local loop unbundling in the near term.
But the regulator’s plan to let BT set the price those suppliers would pay was rejected, with the EC insisting the fee should be cost-oriented.