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Ofcom has outlined how it believes fibre broadband coverage could be increased across the UK.

The telecoms regulator wants to make it easier for companies to build ultrafast fibre-based networks that connect directly to homes and commercial premises.

These, it said, would make use of BT's existing telegraph poles and ducts - the underground tunnels that carry telecoms cables.

Ofcom believes this approach would benefit customers by giving them more choice, innovation and affordable prices.

Furthermore, it believes it would provide an alternative to the copper-based technologies that BT is planning to deploy and promote competition in the broadband sector.

Ofcom has therefore published proposals detailing exactly how this could be achieved and invited stakeholders to air their views in a consultation. 

The watchdog has proposed measures such as allowing BT to recover the costs of providing third-party access, as well as placing an explicit cap on Openreach's rental charges to give providers greater planning certainty in the future.

Stakeholders and interested parties have until January 31st to respond.

Yih-Choung Teh, Competition Policy Director at Ofcom, commented: "Fibre is the future for broadband and Ofcom is helping to deliver that through competition between networks.

"Today we’re explaining how access to BT’s tunnels and poles could be improved, allowing other providers to connect ultrafast, fibre broadband directly to UK homes and offices. 

"Our plans will give providers increased confidence to invest in their own full-fibre networks at reduced cost.”

Ofcom added that greater competition in the sector would encourage providers to continue investing in high-quality fibre networks.

The watchdog added that it would also make the country less dependent on BT's infrastructure subsidiary Openreach.

Ofcom recently ordered BT to legally separate from Openreach, so it is run as a distinct company with its own board.

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