Connexin set to lodge complaint with Ofcom as KCOM proposals dismissed as another ‘obstacle’


As published by the Hull Daily Mail

Connexin is set to lodge a formal complaint with Ofcom after dismissing infrastructure-sharing proposals put forward by KCOM last week as another obstacle.

Connexin CEO Furqan Alamgir said the firm was fed up with KCOM’s “anti-competitive behaviour”, and claimed it has attempted to work collaboratively for “many years” to no avail. A Connexin spokesperson told LDRS the company has been left with no option other than to instruct its lawyers to prepare a formal complaint to Ofcom.

KCOM has been contacted for comment. It comes after KCOM unveiled proposals last week which it said could pave the way for Connexin to access its underground ducts and poles.

The company said its feasibility study had been sent to Connexin for consideration and talks could start next month subject to their feedback. A spokesperson added they had worked flat out to come up with the plans which could potentially spare households from the stress and inconvenience of new poles being installed. It also comes as Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez told companies to refrain from putting up poles unnecessarily or risk losing vital community support.

She added the Government reserved the right to take further action unless companies start sharing infrastructure where it already exists. But in his open letter to KCOM, Connexin CEO Mr Alamgir claimed the feasibility study would not have been necessary if infrastructure was already accessible on fair terms.

He added the company was concerned Ms Lopez’s intervention was not strong, direct or timely enough to change the situation for people in Hull and the East Riding. Mr Alamgir said: “The development of a feasibility study on infrastructure sharing at this stage backs what we have always said about KCOM putting obstacles in the way of what should be a simple process.

“KCOM’s feasibility study report is merely a ten-page document full of blank spaces and bullet points containing ‘high-level estimates’ – no firm pricing, no committed timing and no conclusion as to whether they deem infrastructure sharing feasible or not. In their study, KCOM also argues that they feel sharing their infrastructure may not improve the situation with regards to new poles needing to be installed across Hull and the East Riding.

“Connexin have tried working collaboratively with KCOM for many years. We have invested a significant amount of money to integrate networks but have for years faced what we can only call incumbent anti-competitive behaviour. KCOM’s behaviour led to us making the decision to build our own network to service our growing demand in the Hull and East Riding region.

“We are aware that other operators have tried too and experienced the same obstacles and challenges. KCOM only began the process of engaging a couple of months after our application in October 2023 after a meeting in Westminster.

“We have only gotten this far thanks to pressure put on KCOM by MPs, councillors, the regulator Ofcom and local residents. It’s clear that the only way KCOM will share infrastructure as they are required to do, legally, is through Ofcom stepping in and regulating them in the same way as they do Openreach.

“Unfortunately this doesn’t do much to help the communities of Hull and East Riding who are affected by KCOM’s lack of actions as this process can take months, or even years. The ball is firmly in KCOM’s court – they can chose to make this simple, or drag their heels and blame operators who have demonstrated that they can share infrastructure everywhere else in the country apart from Hull where KCOM own the network and are doing all they can to protect their monopoly.”

Speaking in response to Connexin’s letter, Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis said: “So far, KCOM has behaved like a classic monopoly, acting purely in the interest of its shareholders and consistently ignoring the needs of constituents in East Yorkshire. KCOM must be made to share its infrastructure rapidly, and at a reasonable cost with other network providers.”

The Conservative MP organised a meeting between Hull and East Riding lawmakers and company executives to try to find a solution in January.