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PRESS: BT's Openreach Opens Consultation On Copper Wire Network Future

Thu, 21st Mar 2019 08:40

LONDON (Alliance News) - BT Group PLC subsidiary Openreach has opened a six-week consultation with broadband firms, the government and regulators about the possibility of retiring its copper wire network amid ongoing fibre investment, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Openreach - which is now largely operated separately from FTSE 100-listed BT, but which is still a major profit generator - operates the national telecommunications infrastructure network which is used by providers such as TalkTalk Group PLC, Sky and that of parent firm BT itself.

The firm has committed to build fibre to three million homes by 2020. At the end of 2018, only 6% of UK homes were connected to a full-fibre network.

It now argues, however, that a larger push towards 10 million homes would require a timetable for the withdrawal of older copper lines due to the GBP30 billion cost of building the fibre network.

"The gauntlet has been thrown down for an all fibre world by the chancellor [but] we can't build this new network and have it sitting redundant," Openreach Commercial Head Katie Milligan said, referring to the UK government plan to get all UK homes on full-fibre networks by 2033.

Milligan, however, compared the current situation to building a new motorway but allowing traffic to continue to drive on an "old road full of potholes" that have to be constantly fixed at huge cost.

Shares in BT were 0.5% higher at 229.10 pence on Thursday.

By Ahren Lester;

Copyright 2019 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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