There was an interesting turn of events this week with an open letter being sent to Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, from a number of infrastructure carriers demanding for lower costs on BT’s PIA (physical infrastructure access) products to help with rural broadband delivery. The PIA products allow carriers, other than BT, to use BT poles and ducts across the country for their own cables.
Fair enough you might say, but when pricing BT is offering on the whole 15% lower costs than France or Germany you have to ask if there is another reason for this open attack on price. The rural piece being supported by Government in the form of BDUK is to help build new networks across the country to support high speed internet access. These companies are using this as an excuse that BT has the commercial edge and hence there is no point bidding for these projects. One could argue however, that on the whole these businesses never have had such an appetite for low density populations and instead want access to BT ducts in urban areas where their networks need expansion.
In the case of Sky and TalkTalk being involved I think this is much more opportunistic rather than serious as neither has ever been directly involved in infrastructure apart from housing routers in exchanges as part of their LLU networks. Building out the last mile is certainly a different kettle of fish and something I can see companies such as theirs outsourcing going forward. That leaves the likes of Geo and Virgin who have their own networks and, from what I believe, give no access to BT to any of their own ducts or poles.
It is a shame that the important work by BDUK in focusing resource to the final third of homes and businesses is being used as a football within our own industry to gain commercial advantage over each other. I am a great believer that no matter how big or small, any operator can put together a compelling case to serve customers with new networks across the country. Especially if they are innovative in the technology used and the way coverage is provided.