Openreach plans to upgrade its network to full fibre on an exchange area by exchange area basis. As each area is upgraded it will migrate customers to the new network and then withdraw copper services. Withdrawing copper is important to Openreach’s investment case for full fibre. Uncertainty about how long it will have to run both copper and fibre networks in parallel is a potential risk to its investment in full fibre. Ofcom recognises the importance of supporting a smooth transition to full fibre networks while ensuring vulnerable consumers are protected.
Openreach has announced plans for a trial in Salisbury in which it aims to migrate customers to full fibre and then withdraw copper services there at the end of 2022. Openreach has requested changes to existing regulation to facilitate the early stages of the Salisbury trial. This consultation sets out our proposals in relation to those changes.
We recognise that further changes will be required to support Openreach’s longer term plans to withdraw copper services in Salisbury, and in future around the country. We will consider that as part of our single Fixed Telecoms Market Review on which we will consult at the end of this year.