Fibre optic broadband could get cheaper under new Ofcom proposals

UK communications regulator Ofcom is looking at what BT charges other providers and people for fibre optic broadband, which could see prices go down. However, fibre may already be more affordable than you think…

New proposals to promote competition among fibre optic broadband providers could see costs come down.

UK communications regulator Ofcom has proposed new rules to ensure that BT maintains a sufficient margin, between what it charges other providers to use its fibre network, and what it charges people for fibre - so other providers are able to match BT's prices and still make money.

You see, most other providers in the UK that offer fibre, such as Sky and TalkTalk, pay BT to deliver it using BT's network. Having formerly been the national telecommunications company, BT owns the national communications network, and manages, maintains and upgrades it through it's Openreach division.

Under Ofcom's proposals, BT will be able to decide how much it charges other providers to use its fibre network, as it does now, but there will have to be enough of a difference between that and what it charges people for fibre to stop it from pricing the other providers out of the market.

The new rules would also take into account how much BT spends on and makes from BT Sport, which you get free online and on your phone with standard BT broadband and BT Infinity fibre. BT doesn't allow other providers to offer it with broadband, giving them a further competitive edge.

Ofcom's proposing the new rules now because, while other providers had less than 100,000 connections on BT's network after they were first given access to it in 2010, they now have 2.7 million, and that number's expected to increase over the next few years.

The upshot of all this is, whether BT has to charge other providers less to use its fibre network, or more for BT Infinity, it will encourage the likes of Sky and TalkTalk to make their fibre more attractive to people, which could see them reduce prices.

However, Ofcom isn't due to make a final decision on the new rules until later in the year, so it will be a while until they have any effect on prices. But if you've been thinking about switching to fibre, don't be discouraged from doing it now, as it may not cost as much as you think.

The cheapest fibre packages cost around £5-10 a month more than the cheapest standard packages, not including offers. While this isn't insignificant, if you haven't switched in ages, you may not have to pay much more for fibre, as you could be paying over the odds for what you're currently getting.

Have you switched to fibre? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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