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Ofcom has announced plans to allow broadband suppliers access to the network infrastructure arm of BT, a move that could lead to improved broadband for consumers.

The regulator's new approach is intended to speed up the fibre broadband rollout, bringing a faster service to more parts of the country.

Openreach, BT's subsidiary that maintains a network of tunnels and telegraph poles to supply telecoms connections to homes and businesses, is being separated from BT following pressure from Ofcom.

Under the detailed proposals laid out by Ofcom, rival companies will be given access to Openreach's network and allowed to lay their own cables for delivering fibre broadband to consumers - access that only BT has had in the past.

Providers will be able to use Openreach's infrastructure to build their own networks, rather than relying on existing cabling. This means more providers will be able to offer faster fibre broadband to customers, bringing more suppliers to the market and potentially resulting in cheaper prices.

Furthermore, broadband providers will have access to a continually-updated 'map' of the Openreach network, so they can plan ahead when looking to add new capacity.

Competition policy director at Ofcom Yih-Choung Teh said the move will put other suppliers - such as Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin - on a "level playing field with BT" when it comes to supplying superfast broadband.

"We'll make it easier for companies to offer their own full-fibre broadband more cheaply by accessing Openreach's tunnels and telegraph poles," he explained.

One of Ofcom's key concerns is that while the UK compares well with its major European neighbours when it comes to providing some form of fibre broadband, coverage of full-fibre broadband - where cables run directly to a home to provide faster speeds - is still very low.

Opening up Openreach's network will accelerate the rollout of full-fibre offerings, the regulator believes.

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