Ofcom has announced it may consider separating BT from Openreach, as part of the first phase of its digital communications review.
Ofcom are currently seeking ‘evidence and views’ with regards to separating BT and Openreach, as well as applying new rules to BT and promoting competition between networks. The regulator claims that, while the Openreach has broadened consumer choice, it still provides BT with ‘incentive to discriminate against competing providers’.
A BT spokesperson said: ‘As Ofcom say, “This approach (Openreach) has delivered real choice, quality and value for phone and broadband customers”.
‘Much of that progress is down to BT investing billions of pounds in fibre at the height of the recession. That investment wouldn't have occurred had BT been split in two a decade ago and our ambitious plans for ultrafast broadband also depend on BT remaining intact.
‘We hope Ofcom will put the needs of the UK consumers ahead of those who have tried to keep the UK in the digital dark ages.’
Ofcom’s review follows a formal investigation request by Sky into BT’s Openreach division. Tensions between the two rivals escalated over the last fortnight when BT accused its competitor of ‘selective spin’ and using Openreach as a ‘smokescreen’ to hide its Pay TV dominance. BT has subsequently called on Ofcom to investigate Sky in the UK Pay TV market.
Ofcom’s digital review sees further implement its ‘tough stance’ against service providers, after cutting BT’s wholesale prices and making it easier for consumer to switch broadband companies. The new review will see Ofcom consider making it easier for mobile customers to switch networks, in a move to ‘empower consumers and businesses’.
Ofcom’s review will now move into its second phase, accepting evidence and responses until October 8 2015, after which the regulator will decide what action to take.