UK altnets to band together for infrastructure sharing


Independent Network Cooperative Association (INCA) has set up the group, encouraging altnets to share physical infrastructure to ease and accelerate fibre deployment

Today, INCA has announced a new infrastructure sharing group (ISG) aimed at helping UK altnets share ducts for the rollout of full fibre.

Currently, Openreach is required to share access to its cable ducts and poles via a regulated Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product, as stipulated by Ofcom. This gives altnets looking to use Openreach’s infrastructure a very clear path to deployment.

However, in areas where Openreach PIA is not available, sharing duct infrastructure becomes a much more complicated process. While some regulation does exist to ease sharing between competing network players, altnets are typically wary of striking a commercial sharing agreements with competitors, having invested so much capex in deploying the infrastructure themselves.

Lacking these agreements, altnets are often forced to deploy their own additional ducts, driving up costs and causing additional disruption for the local population.

As a result, INCA says the formation of the ISG will serve to identify opportunities for infrastructure sharing between remembers and simplifying the agreement process.

More specifically, the group will explore:

opportunities for sharing between Altnets and third parties;
the possibilities of standardising commercial, technical and operational approaches to sharing;
the suitability of the existing Access to Infrastructure Regulations framework;
and the need for improved communication between all parties including local communities.

“The creation of the group has been well received by members, who are in agreement that sharing infrastructure should be prioritised when deploying networks, especially in areas where Openreach PIA is not available or at capacity,” explained Guy Miller, CEO of MS3 Networks and Chair of the Infrastructure Sharing Group. “As the CEO of a network builder focussed in an area where PIA is not widely available, we know better than most the challenge this brings to us and the communities in which we operate.”

With altnets currently struggling to recoup the costs of their expensive fibre rollouts, effective infrastructure will be vital to their ongoing survival.

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