Over 100 members of the UK Parliament recently called for telecoms regulator Ofcom to split Openreach, which controls the nation’s broadband infrastructure,away from the rest BT.

BT Openreach

Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that every home and business in the UK would have access to a minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps by 2020. Ofcom has given the responsibility of implementing this programme to Openreach, the BT owned company that maintains the UK’s national broadband and telephone network.

Openreach was recently criticised in the British Infrastructure Group’s Broadbad report, with the report claiming that whilst BT has received £1.7 billion in public money to provide faster broadband across the UK, 5.7 million people still lack the 10Mbps minimum download speed. In response to the report, 122 MPs have backed a cross-party proposal to break Openreachfrom BT.

Converting to fully fibre

According to The Next Web, a technology news outlet, the proposal criticised BT’s reliance on a network of copper cabling to provide nationwide broadband, instead of going “fully fibre.” The proposal said: “We believe that Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation. Yet instead we have a monopoly company clinging to outdated copper technology with no proper long-term plan for the future.

“We need to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind the other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement. However, we will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector. Given all the delays and missed deadlines, we believe that only a formal separation of BT from Openreach, combined with fresh competition and a concerted ambition to deliver will now create the broadband service that our constituents and businesses so rightly demand.”

Importance of competition

The proposal continued: “Unless BT and Openreach are formally separated to become two entirely independent companies little will change. They will continue to paper over gaping cracks. Whilst rural SMEs and consumers are left with dire speeds, or even no service at all, Openreachfinds little reason to invest in the network, install new lines or even fix faults in a properly timely manner.”

It goes on to state: “The time has come for a bold and comprehensive solution, full separation and deregulation will provide that solution.” It’s essential that the UK telecoms sector remains competitive, so providers are incentivised to ensure the country’s SME community receive first-rate broadband service.


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