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Ofcom recommends that BT and Openreach are not split

by Mark Tyson on 25 February 2016, 11:01

Tags: British Telecom (LON:BT.A), Sky, TalkTalk, Ofcom

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Ofcom has completed its Strategic Review of Digital Communications, announced in March last year. In its interim conclusions, published today, Ofcom doesn't go as far as BT and its shareholders had feared - asking for a decisive split between BT and Openreach - however it has said BT must give competitors access to its infrastructure to be able to connect up advanced fibre networks to homes and offices.

In a blog post on the Ofcom site Chief Executive, Sharon White, wrote that "The UK has made good progress rolling out superfast broadband and 4G mobile. But we need to do better... The challenge is for the UK to keep up with everyone's expectations of their broadband and phones, to ensure they get the reliability, quality and speeds they need. Today’s proposals are designed to achieve this."

Ofcom's recommended strategic steps to achieve its digital communications goals are summarised as follows:

  • the guarantee of universal broadband availability at a sufficient speed to meet modern consumer needs;
  • support for investment and innovation in ultrafast broadband networks (such as fibre to homes or businesses) by giving BT's competitors improved access to its infrastructure;
  • improvements in the quality of service delivered by the whole of the telecoms industry, including Openreach, BT’s access network division;
  • increased independence of Openreach from BT so that it is more responsive to all of its customers; and
  • consumer empowerment so that people can understand the array of choices available to them and are able to switch to the best value deal easily.

BT welcomed the Ofcom report and said that it would also welcome competitors to use its network, as the BBC notes "if they are keen to invest". BT rivals, such as Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk, have previously complained about BT/Openreach underinvestment in modern networking infrastructure so now it seems they will be able to put their hands in their pockets to help deliver faster speeds and more reliable connections across the UK.

HEXUS received an email from a Sky spokesperson about the Ofcom decision. Sky said that it would be happy to work with Ofcom and it "looks forward to playing a positive role in helping make Britain a digital world leader." Overall though Sky's response was pretty sour. It started by saying the Ofcom report is "recognition that the current Openreach model is not working and that fundamental change is required", furthermore Sky said "BT must now be held to account for improving service and enabling delivery of fibre to Britain's homes and businesses".

The Ofcom projections for superfast broadband and 4G availability for 'by the end of 2017' are indicated above, hopefully the industry can fulfil or even exceed them.



HEXUS Forums :: 30 Comments

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Hasn't BT/Openreach been told that it must give competitors access to its infrastructure before? I thought, maybe mistakenly, that its been a bone of contention for years.
Corky34
Hasn't BT/Openreach been told that it must give competitors access to its infrastructure before? I thought, maybe mistakenly, that its been a bone of contention for years.

They were forced to wholesale capacity (i.e. LLU)….I think this goes quite a bit further.

The problem is, they still haven't made a real decision……and every example I can think of where a body has forced a split up to provide better prices for consumers, we end up paying more :S
I see 10Mb broadband is still labelled as ‘Superfast’. What a joke… I get 30Mb and I still think its too slow. Its ok for HD video and the odd download but when you download 15Gb patches regularly (thanks star citizen) its just not good enough.
2020 minimum speed of 10mb/s… seriously that should be what we're on NOW, we're already behind the times when it comes to landline internet. Seriously we should be 100+mb/s by now and at the rate things are going most places will have faster mobile phone access (at stupidly high prices admittedly) than their pc on the landline.

I also laugh at the 4g by 2017 figure… I can't even get a decent signal from them full stop and it's not like I'm in the middle of nowhere. How about ofcom making it so that EVERY part of this country is fully able to utilise the mobile phone service we pay for and make them do it rather than being “ok you can have a bit longer” because you've got a plan set out vodafone… which should have been completed already.

OFCOM always seems to come across like the person who's done the ‘review’ has dropped an empty envelope on the floor and then the person being reviewed has handed it back full of money.
LSG501
2020 minimum speed of 10mb/s… seriously that should be what we're on NOW, we're already behind the times when it comes to landline internet. Seriously we should be 100+mb/s by now and at the rate things are going most places will have faster mobile phone access (at stupidly high prices admittedly) than their pc on the landline.

I do, actually. 4G is 2-3x faster than ADSL.