Ofcom has today published its final statement on the Business Connectivity Market Review (BCMR).

The statement confirms new rules designed to improve BT’s performance in installing high-speed business lines, and significant reductions to the wholesale prices BT charges for these lines.

Ofcom’s BCMR considers the £2bn market for ‘leased lines’ – dedicated, high-speed data links used by large businesses and mobile and broadband operators to transfer data on their networks. Most of these lines are owned and maintained on behalf of competing providers by BT.

Today’s statement follows consideration by the European Commission of Ofcom’s draft BCMR statement, published in March, and takes account of the Commission’s comments.

Faster installations and ‘dark fibre’ access

Since 2011, the average time between a customer’s order and the line being ready has increased from 40 to 48 working days. BT is now required to reduce this to 46 working days by the end of March 2017, and return it to 40 working days the following year.

Openreach must also complete 80% of leased line orders by the date it promises customers by the end of March 2017, rising to 90% from April 2018.

Today’s statement also confirms that BT will have to provide access to its optical fibre network for providers of high-speed leased lines for businesses, using a process known as ‘dark fibre’.

Lower wholesale charges for leased lines

Ofcom has confirmed reductions in the wholesale prices BT charges for leased line services, expected to result in lower prices for businesses.

The main ‘charge controls’ relate to two groups of services provided by BT. These are: newer lines based on the  ‘Ethernet’ standards for sending data at very high speeds over networks; and older leased lines using ‘traditional interface’ technology.

  • For BT’s Ethernet services with bandwidths up to and including 1Gbit/s, Ofcom has concluded an initial reduction in prices of 12%, with a subsequent overall cap of CPI -13.5% for each year of the charge control.
  • For BT’s traditional interface services with bandwidths up to and including 8Mbit/s, Ofcom has concluded an initial reduction in prices of 7.5%, with a subsequent overall cap of CPI -3.5% for each year of the charge control.