The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has issued a direct challenge to a 10-point plan put forward by senior industry figures to separate BT from Openreach.
The proposals, signed by a coalition of top level execs from Vodafone, Sky, TalkTalk and the Federation of Communications Services, called on Ofcom to fulfill its promise to review BT’s broadband arm. Many demanded full structural separation in a move to pile pressure on Ofcom CEO Sharon White.
Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary for telecoms has threatened to ‘push the button’ on a national campaign to prevent separating BT from Openreach, issuing his own 10-point rebuttal in retaliation. He has claimed that splitting BT from Openreach would significantly restrict broadband investment.
‘There is no evidence to suggest that Sky, Talk Talk, Vodafone UK, and indeed any other telecoms provider, will commit anywhere near the required levels of investment to deliver a world class network right across the country,’ he said.
His proposals warned: ‘ An overhaul in Openreach’s governance, to make it a separate entity would force the company to renegotiate some £4m property and 32,000 employee contracts. This will be time consuming and expensive, diverting money and effort into modernising the network.
‘Openreach’s network faces strong network competition in at least 50% of the country, and in more remote areas where investment returns are weaker. We therefore believe incentives for independent network operators to invest are down to the right regulation.
‘The CWU is concerned that regulation in telecoms has focused too heavily on promoting competition in the pursuit of lower prices and cost cutting and we believe this constrains investment which in turn limits service quality and undermines universal service provision.’
Mobile has contacted Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and the Federation of Communications Services for comment and is waiting a reponse.
More to follow.