Vodafone's Group CEO Vittorio Colao has told Ofcom to be decisive in reforming BT Openreach, urging the regulator that the time is now.
Colao directly addressed the issue at a media roundtable for the network’s end of year financials results.
Answering a question put to him by Mobile, Colao said: ‘I hope Ofcom will have the courage and determination to balance competition and investment and not choose one over the other. The power of a combined BT/EE that also controls Openreach is something that Ofcom should look at. It’s time for them to be decisive.’
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His comments follow a 10-point plan released on 17 May by a coalition of Vodafone, TalkTalk, Sky and the Federation of Communications Services (FCS). In an open letter to Ofcom CEO Sharon White the mobile brands set out their plan to reform BT Openreach.
The coalition issued a direct challenge to the regulator, with FCS CEO Chris Patemen stating that the document would ensure that Ofcom delivered on its promise to bring reform to BT Openreach.
The plan was rebutted by BT who said that the suggestions put forward by the coalition were incompatible with BT’s responsibility to ‘steward shareholder’s money’.
Responding to the comments made by BT, Colao said: ‘At the end of the day if you are a shareholder of an incumbent with a lot of market power, you should think that you should not overcharge everyone else. Openreach is generating over returns which is not illegal but it has been proven by Ofcom that Openreach has generated returns in excess and that can’t continue forever.’
Echoing Ofcom’s promise to change the status quo, Colao warned that if the regulator did not fulfil its pledge to bring changes to the market, investment would fall. He concluded: ‘The role of the regulator is to bring balance and finding that balance is not easy when you have a big BT/EE trying to keep everything paralysed so the regulator should act.’