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Ofcom report fails to recommend BT/Openreach split – Comment

  • In its Digital Communications Strategy, published only once every ten years, Ofcom concludes BT and Openreach should stay together
  • Recommendation a blow for competitors such as Sky, TalkTalk and others which have long campaigned for a split
  • Sky, for example, feels that BT's control of Openreach "Reflect the interests of BT rather than the whole industry"

25 February 2016: New recommendations will ultimately allow competitors to use Openreach's existing poles and tunnels to build their own advanced fibre network.

Openreach will have to consult with the wider industry on budget, investment and strategy.

Ofcom to introduce tougher rules on faults, repairs and installations, with automatic compensation for consumers when things go wrong.

Ofcom to deliver new universal obligation to deliver fast broadband to every home and business in the UK

Ofcom will consult industry on these proposals between now and 1 June 2016 and will publish its final decision in Autumn 2016.

The full Ofcom report is available here

Commenting on Ofcom's findings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk, said:

"Ofcom's decision to open up Openreach's poles and tunnelling to competitors and to give them more say in future strategic and budgetary decision-making goes halfway to alleviating competitor complaints, but stops short of addressing the prime concern.

"With Openreach currently in the midst of its BDUK superfast broadband rollout, aimed at reaching 95% of UK homes by next year – a rollout couched in £1.7bn of public money and a potentially vote-swinging degree of incumbent reputation – the decision should be seen as one of least disruption. It is, perhaps, a case of poor timing winning out over common sense.

"A recommendation to split would have absolutely been the right decision for the UK broadband industry, but, in the short term at least, perhaps not for the 2.5m UK homes that do not currently have access to superfast broadband."

Notes to editors

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Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades. Having spent 12 years at the coalface of consumer telecoms research, initiating and running projects both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now Director of Communications and in-house consumer telecoms expert for Cable.co.uk.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer who frequently appears on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers and their websites, Dan leads a team of journalists and communications folk who spend their days researching and reporting on problems faced by UK broadband, TV and mobile customers both on an individual and macro level.

Dan campaigns on many issues currently facing consumers of broadband, TV and mobile products in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: Rural broadband provision; mobile coverage; broadband, TV and mobile customer contract issues; broadband and mobile broadband speeds; switching and money-saving; infrastructural challenges; pricing, changes and structures; shifts in technology and the marketplace; telecoms regulation, policy and law; fines, adjudications and policy changes; mergers and closures of UK providers; annual financials and more.

Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality. He also administers and adjudicates the yearly Broadband Service Quality Awards and sits on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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