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Ofcom Sets Up BT Openreach Monitoring Unit

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ofcom outlines how it plans to make sure Openreach is acting independently of BT

Ofcom is to set up a dedicated division to assess how the newly independent Openreach is performing and whether it is adequately serving all of its customers – not just parent BT. 

Earlier this year, BT agreed to make Openreach a legally separate company with its own CEO, board, budget, strategy and brand amid concerns from industry that the open access network division was operating in the interests of BT, stifling competition and investment. 

Some had called for Openreach to be sold off entirely, and Ofcom warned that this could be an option in the future if changes were not made. 

19.06.17 Openreach engineers on site in South Wales Picture by Nick Treharne

Ofcom Openreach 

Ofcom, and the industry generally, has welcomed Openreach’s moves towards independence and earlier this week CEO Clive Selley published an open letter to its 580 communications provider (CP) customers promising to do better. 

However the regulator has made it clear that words will need to be backed up with actions and that full separation is still on the cards. 

The ‘Openreach Monitoring Unit’ will look at repair and installation times, the rollout of fibre to the premise (FTTP), and whether Openreach is responsive to different models of investment such as co-investment with another providers like TalkTalk. 

A report will be published six months after the commitments come into force and then annually after that. 

“The new Openreach will be built to serve all its customers equally, acting independently and taking investment decisions on behalf of all its customers,” said Sharon White, Ofcom CEO. 

“BT has made positive progress towards implementing the reforms. Once they are complete, Ofcom will keep a careful eye on whether Openreach is working for telecoms users, ensuring BT and Openreach live by the letter and spirit of their commitments. If we see problems emerging, we won’t hesitate to act.” 

In a statement sent to Silicon an Openreach spokes person said the company supports Ofcom;s statement and is working on creating a more independent Openreach.

“We’ve already made a lot of progress. Our CEO now reports to the Openreach Chairman and is accountable to the Openreach Board which has a majority of independent members,” the spokesperson said. 
 
“We’re also working more closely with our CP customers and we’ve introduced a new confidential phase to our consultations with them. This week we unveiled our new, distinct brand which removes all references to BT Group.
 
“There are still some preconditions that need to be met before Openreach is fully incorporated, but we’re acting like Openreach Limited already.
 
“We are committed to delivering better outcomes for UK consumers and businesses, including better service, faster speeds and broader coverage.”
 

Openreach has started the process of removing BT from its brand. A five year project will see a new Openreach brand rolled out across staff uniforms, websites, vehicles, stationary and buildings. 

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