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Ofcom reviewing BT's infrastructure arm Openreach

2/12/2015 by Jay Siddiki


Pressure by BT's rivals for Ofcom to step in and disrupt the telecoms giant's subsidiary Openreach appears to have taken its toll, after the head of the telecoms regulator revealed that she is exploring four possible options for BT's infrastructure arm.

Ofcom's chief executive, Sharon White, said one option under consideration is "the structural separation" of Openreach from BT, BBC News reports.

Such action would delight TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone, who have long called for BT to lose control of Openreach, its fixed-line broadband network, which it runs alongside its other services.

Their argument is that with the digital economy in mind, the UK cannot afford to have anything but ubiquitous superfast broadband and BT is coming up short in this respect.

White appears to be in agreement and said it was unacceptable that 2.5 million homes did not have access to minimal broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second (mbps).

However, she pointed out that the UK was doing fairly well in rolling out superfast broadband compared with other major European economies, suggesting that a split is not a given.

The other three options the regulator is exploring are: more deregulation; adjusting the existing system to make it "more fit for purpose"; or to maintain the status quo.

"I think there will be change," she told the BBC. "We're looking at a number of options, but I think it is very unlikely we will conclude that the status quo which has worked over the last 10 years is where we are likely to be over the next decade."

White's comments come less than a month after the UK government announced that Internet providers will be legally obliged to provide speed of 10mbps to everyone who wants it by 2020.



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