UK comms regulator Ofcom has published its annual monitoring report on the progress towards delivering a more independent Openreach, the digital infrastructure subsidiary of dominant telco BT.
In 2017, BT notified Ofcom of its voluntary commitments to reform Openreach. This included Openreach becoming a legally separate entity with its own board, management and staff. In 2018, BT notified Ofcom that the steps to fully implement legal separation had been completed and the regulator has been monitoring closely how the arrangements have been working in practice.
The report on those arrangements has been published, with Ofcom finding overall that the parties are making good progress. BT has increased its full fibre ambitions since the last report, while Openreach continues to build new connections at pace. Generally, the feedback Ofcom received from industry during its monitoring suggests Openreach is also improving its engagement with its wholesale customers.
However, Ofcom recognises some stakeholders would like to see further improvements including in areas such as duct and poles access.
According to Ofcom, it is important both BT and Openreach continue their commitment to ensure further progress is made and that these improvements are sustainable over the long term. Ofcom will continue monitoring the arrangements carefully and welcomes evidence from stakeholders on their experiences of working with BT and Openreach.
“We’re encouraged that Ofcom recognise the progress Openreach is making as a business and, in particular, how our amazing engineers have responded to the Coronavirus pandemic,” commented Mark Shurmer, Managing Director of Regulatory Affairs at Openreach. “Openreach exists to promote choice and competition in the UK’s broadband market, and we’re continuing to focus on building a better, broader and faster network for our customers all over the country. There’s a big job to do, and no room for complacency, so we’ll be working closely with our customers, Ofcom, the wider industry and all of our stakeholders to keep the UK connected.”