Vodafone Objects to BT’s G.fast Deployment

Vodafone has filed a sour grapes complaint with Ofcom against BT that says it (Vodafone) wants a long consultation on BT’s deployment of G.fast, which would slow BT’s deployment of G.fast for months, according to the Financial Times. Vodafone said BT’s G.fast plans break Ofcom’s guidelines on network investment. If Vodafone and others are allowed to consult, they could stop BT’s G.fast deployments, which BT’s broadband resellers call an unsatisfactory “halfway house” compromise because it is not an all-fiber deployment. Vodafone could even sue if BT deploys without a consultation.

The Financial Times saw a letter by Matthew Braovac, Vodafone’s head of competition and regulatory affairs, which warns Ofcom that Openreach’s trials of G. fast technology are in breach of the regulator’s undertakings that were modified in 2009 to allow the BT’s Openreach to deploy fiber to cabinets in neighborhoods. Vodafone said the 2009 modifications don’t give BT a blank check for all future network deployments. A Vodafone spokesman said: “We call on Ofcom to discharge its legal duties and carry out a proper consultation into this issue.” It’s a strange objection because BT is paying for the G.fast deployment with its own money and money from the government that Vodafone and others could have applied for – but did not.

BT is testing G.fast with 550 customers and plans to expand it to 17 more locations with 138,000 premises by the end of March. After those tests are completed successfully, BT plans a commercial rollout, which would make it second to Swisscom in European G.fast commercial deployments. BT is also building all-fiber networks that connect to the home but most of its planned deployments use G.fast technology.

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