What is local loop unbundling (LLU)?

Local loop unbundling (LLU) allows other broadband providers to use and adapt BT’s existing telephone network infrastructure to offer a greater choice of broadband services at more competitive prices. 
 
Find out more about the benefits of LLU services. 

Local loop unbundling (LLU) allows other broadband providers to use and adapt BT’s existing telephone network infrastructure to offer a greater choice of broadband services at more competitive prices. 
 
Find out more about the benefits of LLU services. 

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
3
minute read
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Posted 29 APRIL 2021

What is local loop unbundling (LLU)? 

The ‘local loop’ is another name for the cable that connects your home to the telephone exchange. It’s also sometimes called the ‘last mile’.  
 
If you have ADSL broadband your internet connection is delivered over these lines – the same copper lines through which you receive and make landline phone calls. Even if you have fibre-optic broadband, if it’s fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), the last part of your connection (from the street cabinet to your home) will still be delivered over the phone lines.  
 
BT owns most of the telephone lines in the UK so, to prevent it from having a monopoly over internet connection, Ofcom introduced legislation in 2001 requiring it to share its existing infrastructure with other internet service providers (ISPs).  
 
This process of freeing up the lines for other ISPs is known as local loop unbundling – often called LLU or LLUB. The regulations mean that broadband providers can rent BT’s existing copper line network and connect it to their own LLU network by installing software at the local exchange, in order to offer customers a greater choice of services.  
 
Most ISPs in the UK are LLU broadband providers. The main exception is Virgin Media, which uses its own cable broadband network.  

What is Openreach and how does it relate to LLU? 

When Ofcom introduced LLU regulations in 2001, BT created a division called Openreach to run, maintain and develop almost the entire phone and broadband cable network in the UK. No doubt you’ll have seen its vans out and about.  
 
In 2017, Openreach was made into a separate legal company. Although the BT group still owns Openreach, and therefore most of the telecommunications network, Openreach has separate management and a separate board. Ofcom hoped that introducing this element of independence would mean greater investment in the network, leading to better prices for you.

What are the benefits of local loop unbundling? 

LLU helps broadband customers because it means there’s more competition on the market. You get a wider choice of broadband providers and more competitive prices. It also makes it easier to switch providers, if you’re not happy with your current service.  
 
Because LLU providers don’t have to spend a lot of money building up their own infrastructure, it also means they can offer you cheaper deals.  
 
Plus, the fact that companies can use their own software on the LLU network means you have a wider range of broadband options to choose from. For example, you might choose an ISP that offers faster broadband speeds, or you might instead opt for a deal with a larger download allowance.

It’s easier to switch thanks to LLU! 

More competition means more competitive prices. If you’re near the end of your current broadband contract, you can check you’re getting the best deal by comparing what’s on offer.  
 
We compare prices from all the UK’s main broadband providers so you can see what’s available in your area and find the most suitable option for you.   
 
Just tell us your postcode and start comparing.

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