The West Midlands may get an ultrafast alternative to BT broadband if fibre provider WarwickNet wins approval to dig up roads and extend its reach.
Ofcom has provisionally granted the ISP access to provide business parks and residents in Warwickshire and other Midlands counties with superfast and ultrafast broadband services.
If WarwickNet’s wins Ofcom ‘Code Powers’ it will also be able to use BT Openreach’s underground ducts and telephone poles to reach customers without digging its own cable ducts – reaching customers faster and with less disruption.
Ofcom said: “Business parks often suffer from low broadband speeds and, without the Applicant’s [WarwickNet’s] intervention, would not be afforded the opportunity to obtain improved services.
“The Applicant states that this is because business parks are considered to be low density, uneconomic projects by incumbent providers.”
WarwickNet’s network is currently made up of roadside cabinets and associated duct infrastructure, leasing fibre optic lines from other providers including BT. If it cannot reach the Openreach lines, it installs conduits to connect the dots from its cabinets to the fibre optic lines.
At the moment, WarwickNet must apply for individual licences under section 50 of the New Road and Street Works Act 1991, which means private landlords can stop the service from being installed in its properties if it wishes.
WarwickNet’s ambitions go beyond Warwickshire’s business parks to provide connections to residents and spread out into other parts of the Midlands.
Ofcom opened its consultation process on August 15, allowing anyone to offer their support, objections or comments by September 15.