By Michelle Donegan | 18 November 2022
- New wholesale platform providers step up to help fibre altnets offer wholesale services and support upcoming One-Touch Switch rules.
- Doubts persist over industry meeting Ofcom’s OTS deadline by April 2023.
The altnet-owned Common Wholesale Platform (CWP) is up and running, and a commercial launch is expected “in the coming months”, as the deadline looms for operators to support regulator Ofcom’s One-Touch Switch (OTS) process.
CWP announced that the platform is “fully operational”, and has “more than 200,000 full-fibre wholesale addresses available for retail members to resell”, during the Independent Networks Cooperative Association’s annual conference this week.
According to Marcel Horst, Director of CWP, “it has taken 18 months to develop and test our platform, but we are now close to launching this across the UK telecom industry”.
CWP is a member-owned and -operated not-for-profit organisation led by County Broadband, Glide Business, ITS Technology Group, NGE Contracting, and Wight Fibre that provides wholesale and OTS services. The platform is a central hub that makes fibre altnet products available and visible to internet service provider resellers.
The organisation is understood to be working with at least twelve altnets and retail ISPs that are integrating their systems with the platform, testing the OTS process, and developing wholesale offers. Some altnets are also including participation in CWP in tenders for Project Gigabit contracts, which stipulate wholesale requirements.
CWP is one of several new platforms to have cropped up in the busy UK fibre market in response to the growing trend for altnets to fill their full-fibre networks by offering wholesale services to other broadband retail service providers, as well as Ofcom’s new switching rules.
For example, BroadbandHUB is creating an independent wholesale fibre aggregation platform that will be hosted on Google Cloud Platform, providing service availability, order management, and fault management for altnets and retail ISPs. Formed in April 2021, the company is jointly owned by UK-based Hubbub Group and Sweden’s Hubory.
Another member-owned, not-for-profit platform is The One Touch Switching Company (TOTSCo) that launched in June 2022. It does not appear to be as far along as CWP, as it is still in the process of conducting an RFP for the technology platform, but its membership has some heavyweight providers, albeit mostly retail. The “actual and pending” members listed on its website are Air Broadband, BT, CityFibre, Gamma Telecom, Sky UK, TalkTalk, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone.
Ofcom launched the OTS process in September 2021 to make it easier and faster for consumers to change broadband providers, “in as little as a day where possible”. The new rules take effect from April 2023, and operators are required to implement the process by that time.
However, as ISPreview reported earlier this month, this deadline looks unfeasible as there are unresolved technical issues and confusion among many altnets about the requirements.
TOTSCo even says in its Frequently Asked Questions that it is “unlikely” that OTS will be ready by April next year because the Hub needs to be developed, providers will have to “modify their own processes”, and there will need to be “extensive end-to-end testing”. TOTSCo noted that it has flagged these issues with Ofcom.