Openreach launches mapping tool for carriers

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

BT's now-separate wholesale arm will offer its rivals a tool giving more information about access to ducts and poles

Openreach has launched a digital mapping tool aimed at helping carriers looking to plan and build their own infrastructure connect to its own nationwide network.

The network maps have been developed voluntarily by Openreach and offer an instant, interactive view of the BT-owned carrier’s national network of underground ducts, telephone poles and cable chambers.

The service means companies looking to connect to Openreach’s infrastructures will no longer be required to request the information from the company, which previously offered static maps and network diagrams upon request.

Duct and pole access have long been highlighted as an issue by BT’s rivals, who claimed the inability to easily access information about Openreach’s network justified calls to split it from its parent company.

Openreach said it hopes that the web-based mapping tool will encourage more investment in fibre services by allowing companies to carry out work on their own. 

It also revealed plans to update the tool with further functional enhancements, including a tool that shows how much capacity is available in each duct, and what has already been assigned for other networks currently in development.

Another tool in the works is one that allows communications providers yo download underlying data and add it to their own mapping systems.

Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach said: “This is another important development in our plans to give greater access to our network and encourages other companies to join Openreach in building better, broader and faster communications services for the whole UK. 

“As our infrastructure already exists, CPs will be able to build and expand their fibre network in far quicker timescales than if building it from scratch. The mapping tool further enhances that process – giving CPs exactly the same level of access to our network data as Openreach.

“Our ducts and poles have been open to these companies for several years, and Ofcom has been clear that the price to access them is in line with international comparisons, but they haven’t been used on a large scale to date. We hope that these new, simpler processes – which have been designed and developed in partnership with the industry – will encourage more companies to invest, particularly in parts of the UK that aren’t already served by high-speed networks.”

Openreach is currently undergoing a major reform, as it has appointed a new board of directors and is being ran separately to BT, which still owns it. Rivals have challenged Ofcom to split the wholesale arm from BT, but the regulator instead opted for legal separation.