Ofcom review: BT rivals react to Openreach decision

Ofcom review: BT rivals react to Openreach decision

BT’s rivals have welcomed Ofcom’s decision to reform BT’s relationship with Openreach.

The UK regulator used its Strategic Review of Digital Communications to state that the telecoms giant must open up its Openreach network to competitors.

The main issue surrounding BT Openreach has been the effect on competition, with rivals publically accusing the EE owner of stifling competition. This has been refuted by both BT CEO Gavin Patterson and by Ofcom, who said in its review that Openreach has delivered stronger competition to the market.

Sky calls for separation

According to Sky, fundamental change is needed. Over the last year the company has publically clashed with BT over competition in the market, with the telecoms giant urging Ofcom to review Sky’s pay-TV presence.

Speaking about Ofcom’s recent review Sky described the market as ‘broken’, claiming that fully separating BT and Openreach is the only way to fix it. A spokesperson said: ‘We welcome Ofcom’s recognition that the current Openreach model is not working and that fundamental change is required. BT must now be held to account for improving service and enabling delivery of fibre to Britain’s homes and businesses.

‘Ofcom's actions today are not the end of the debate but a staging post towards delivering the network and service that Britain needs. We believe the simplest and most effective way to fix the current broken market structure is for Openreach to be completely independent. We are pleased to see that separation is still on the table.’

TalkTalk demands action

TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding applauded Ofcom’s review and its decision to keep BT at arm’s length from Openreach. However the MVNO boss expressed concern at the regulator’s lack of action in terms of moving forward: ‘Ofcom has done well in identifying many of the worst problems, including recognising, finally, that BT's control of Openreach creates a fundamental conflict of interest which hurts customers.

‘But having accepted all this, Ofcom has produced 100 pages of consultation with little concrete action behind it. The risk is that we end up with 10 more years of debate and delays, rather than facing into the problems and delivering improvements for frustrated customers now.’

Vodafone urges investment

Vodafone described BT as a ‘monopoly provider’, urging Ofcom to force BT to reinvest excess Openreach profits back into the network. The network has previously said Ofcom should force BT to open up its infrastructure to competitors.

A spokesperson said: ‘We welcome Ofcom’s move to tighten its regulation and governance of BT Openreach and leave structural separation on the table.

‘However, BT still remains a monopoly provider with a regulated business running at a 28% profit margin.  Therefore, we urge Ofcom to ensure BT reinvests the £4 billion in excess profits Openreach has generated over the last decade in bringing fibre to millions of premises across the country.’

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