BT are set to launch a new infrastructure project in October 2017 known as Dark Fibre Access as part of their Openreach Ethernet portfolio. There are a number of re-adjustments to pricing and more that Ofcom are set to put in place before the product launches, but in the meantime, we’re taking a look at what exactly BT Dark Fibre Access is and whether it’s a suitable choice for you.
Dark Fibre Access Overview
The idea behind Dark Fibre Access is to allow customers the opportunity to design and customise their connectivity services and solutions according to what they require, rather than dealing with a set package. While it is very much based on common fibre delivery processes, the Openreach platform is set to ensure consistency for their customers. Ofcom decided in 2016’s Business Communications Market Review that BT had too much power when it comes to providing leased line services to businesses, which is where the Dark Fibre infrastructure developed from.
Dark Fibre Access is set to be available to any and all interested CP’s as of 1st October 2017 – the product launch date. The product is set to be available nationwide in both regulated and no-regulated routes and geographic areas. However, more details regarding coverage will be announced within 28 days of product launch.
The idea behind Dark Fibre Access is to offer customers an uncontended, unmonitored, unlit optical path. The distance that the service will cover will include an end to end radial distance of up to 45km. In addition to this, there will be a maximum route distance of 86km between two sites. There will be two variants of the service that can be chosen by customers, including a standard or local access and the variant that will best suit customers’ needs will be dependent on an overall active solution.
According to some sources, there are set to be a number of trials taking place around August 2017, ensuring that there are little-to-no issues with the product before the launch date in October. Ofcom as a regulator has been on the forefront of pushing big brands like BT towards Dark Fibre Access, as they believe that it could help to broaden market competition as well as speed up the broadband services that are rolled out across the UK. While BT and other large infrastructure builders like Virgin Media fear that some operators may be put off from investing in their own fibre optic networks, BT are taking the step up to provide the DFA.
BT have already faced issues about pricing for Dark Fibre after TalkTalk filed an appeal with Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority. BT have already been in trouble with Ofcom this year after there were significant delays to high speed cable installation. TalkTalk filed the appeal over how much BT is allowed to charge other providers when it comes to buying their Dark Fibre Access, which was expected to deter providers from purchasing it at all. The CMA stated that the regulator, Ofcom, was using the wrong metrics when calculating the amount BT should be charging. This appeal is now leading to Dark Fibre Access being adjusted in order to make it a more cost-effective alternative.