Ofcom Warns BT That A Change Is Coming


Current status quo ‘cannot continue’, Ofcom CEO Sharon White warns BT ahead of landmark Openreach ruling

The head of Ofcom has warned BT to prepare for change in its current dominant market position, potentially signaling that a break-up of Openreach is imminent.

Sharon White, the CEO of Ofcom, has said that the current situation will not be allowed to continue, as the watchdog looks to encourage competition in the home broadband market.

White is set to preside over the decision of whether to break up BT’s Openreach operation, as its rivals (with the exception of Virgin Media) are keen to see the unit made an entirely separate company.

All change?

Sharon White Ofcom CEO“We’re looking at a number of options, but I think it is very unlikely we will conclude that the status quo which has worked over the last 10 years is where we are likely to be over the next decade,” White (pictured left) told the BBC.

However she did say that Ofcom will be pressing BT and its rivals to address issues such as the accuracy of advertising broadband contracts and the ability to switch providers simply and quickly.

BT in particular has been criticised over issues of access and availability of broadband and quality of service in the past.

“It’s taking a bit too long for repairs to be made, for connections to be linked in after people have requested those,” White said.

White also said that the UK was performing better than other leading European nations in rolling out superfast broadband across the country, which could be a hint that a BT-Openreach split is not exactly necessary.

But she said it was ‘unacceptable’ that 2.5 million homes in the UK still do not have access to minimal broadband speeds of 10Mbps, despite efforts by network providers and the government to accelerate the rollout of such speeds across the country.

White was speaking as Ofcom revealed the findings of its Connected Nations 2015 report, which monitors the state of the UK’s telecoms and wireless networks.

This found that around half (48 percent, or 1.5 million) of homes in rural areas are currently unable to receive broadband speeds of 10 Mbps or above, compared to around eight percent of urban UK homes.

Overall, the report found that superfast broadband is now available to over eight in ten UK homes (83 percent, almost 24 million), up from 75 percent last year.

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