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BT and Openreach split must lead to ‘significant improvements’ for customers

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The legal separation of BT and Openreach must lead to "significant improvements" for customers, consumer group Which? has said.

Telcoms regulator Ofcom has ordered the legal separation of BT and its Openreach network after BT failed to come up with proposals to address competition concerns.

Although the separation is unlikely to impact consumers immediately, the regulator hopes it will lead to better competition in the broadband market.

Alex Neill, managing director of home and legal at campaign group, Which?, said: “Millions of people have suffered woeful levels of service from Openreach, so these reforms must lead to significant improvements for customers who have been let down for too long.

“Telecoms are now an essential part of our daily lives, so it’s vital that Ofcom and Openreach implement these changes swiftly and ensure that consumers really do get faster, more reliable broadband.”

In July this year, Ofcom proposed a number of reforms to give Openreach more independence and to improve broadband and telephone services for customers.

But the regulator said it was “disappointed” that BT has not come up with proposals to meet its competition concerns.

It noted “some progress has been made”, but “not been enough”. Ofcom is now preparing to notify the European Commission of its intention to legally separate BT from Openreach.

A BT spokesperson, said: “We note Ofcom’s announcement this morning, updating on the next steps of the Digital Communications Review.

“We put forward proposals in July that we believe are fair and sustainable, and that meet Ofcom’s objectives without disproportionate costs. We are implementing these proposals, and have just appointed Mike McTighe to be the first chairman of Openreach. We are in discussions with Ofcom on two outstanding issues, the reporting line of the Openreach CEO and the form of legal incorporation.

“We will continue to work with Ofcom to reach a voluntary settlement that is good for customers, shareholders, employees, pensioners and investment in the UK’s digital future.”

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