Ofcom Approve Openreach’s Equinox 2 Plans

After previously delaying the ruling, Ofcom have decided to 'not prevent' Openreach's Equinox 2 offer from being introduced.

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As of the 24th May 2023, Ofcom have released a statement allowing the controversial ‘Equinox 2’ package to be available. This decision has been met with much controversy, due to the nature of the Equinox 2 package.

While Ofcom state that the pricing plan will offer ‘better consumer outcomes’, as well as promoting a network-based competition and won’t create barriers to using alternative networks. Despite this, people have strong opinions against this approval, some stating that it will be ‘significantly increasing prices for millions of it’s retail consumers’. 

While it is true that Equinox 2 will increase prices for retail consumers, it has only been a matter of time before the retail providers would have to make the switch from copper legacy products to full fibre ones. 

Despite this possible raise in price, the pressure from Ofcom’s consultation has led Openreach to decide on making no further raise in wholesale price until the 31st March 2026. This decision was met with much less controversy than the Equinox package itself, receiving mostly positive feedback as it keeps some stability for businesses that may rely on it. 

Ofcom state that they have considered the level of prices under Equinox 2, as well as the concerns over Openreach’s tendency to discuss over and develop discounted deals with some retail providers. Over this they state that they ‘do not have concerns that warrant further investigation’.  This ties into Openreach’s response, in which they plan on making certain commitments regarding their future conduct, and stated the refuse to alter wholesale prices. 

Overall, Ofcom deem this move to be healthy for competition within the market, particularly so for consumers, who are currently affected by the cost of living crisis. Considering that, its highly likely that there would have been some social repercussions against Ofcom had they not have approved the pricing. 

Despite the controversy surrounding the deal, some businesses and industry professionals have endorsed Ofcom’s decision to allow the deal to go through, such as Richard Tang, CEO of Zen Internet, who said: ”We’re pleased to hear Ofcom has decided not to prevent Openreach from introducing Equinox 2 pricing. We welcome any incentives that enable Zen to connect more of our customers to full fibre. Equinox 2, coupled with on-going investment from alternative network providers, will only help accelerate the UK’s journey to a full fibre nation.”

Tang also had some thoughts on the consumer point of view regarding the offer: ”The offer is crucial in making full fibre broadband more accessible and affordable for millions of households across the UK, especially at a time when many are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Zen is committed to working with Openreach, CityFibre and industry partners to accelerate the rollout of full fibre broadband and bring its benefits to as many people as possible.”

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