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    BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

    This is a discussion on BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split - ISPreview UK The Government itself might ...

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      BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

      BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split - ISPreview UK
      The Government itself might still have big doubts about the merits of splitting BT from control of their national phone and broadband network (Openreach), but a new report backed by 121 cross-party MPs has supported separation to boost performance and competition in the UK telecoms market.

      According to the Government’s Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, splitting BT from Openreach has “lots of potential to backfire” and existing “regulations have proved very effective” (here). However separation is currently being “seriously considered” as part of Ofcom’s major Strategic Review of Digital Communications, which will publish its findings by the end of February 2016.

      On the flip side BT contends that it has continued to meet Ofcom’s existing regulatory targets and that any attempt to split their business might tie the process up in legal battles. Questions also remain over how BT’s debt / pension pile might be apportioned in the event of a split, as well as the impact on consumer prices from all of the related changes (better services cost more money) and what kind of market model might be adopted in its place. BT has also warned that their plans to roll-out ultrafast (G.fast) broadband could suffer.

      Never the less a new “Broadband” report from the British Infrastructure Group (BIG), which was setup by Grant Shapps (Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield), has brought together 121 cross-party Members of Parliament in support of calls for BT to lose control of its Openreach division.

      The study claims to highlight “the serious problems that the UK broadband network is facing” and argues that the current situation of “large inconsistencies in service leading to millions of citizens and businesses experiencing slow or non-existent connections is now untenable“.

      The report contends that “our future is being held back by systemic underinvestment stemming from the ‘natural monopoly’ of BT and Openreach“, which is “stifling competition, hurting our constituents and in the process limiting Britain’s business and economic potential.”

      Cross-Party Report Statement

      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
      .”
      The report itself does not appear to represent a detailed assessment of the market (only Ofcom can deliver that), but it does look at some of the most common complaints about the industry and then largely appears to accept them at face value, without doing a deeper analysis.

      BT’s forthcoming 300-500Mbps G.fast technology also gets described as a “short term fix“, with the report claiming that BT will use it to “strain every last bit of profit they can from the outdated and struggling copper network.” The assumption is once again that the grass will be greener on the other side and that separation is the best fix.

      Key Findings

      • Openreach has so far received £1.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies to connect harder to reach areas of the UK to superfast services, but has repeatedly failed to deliver.
      • Around 5.7 million people in the UK have internet connections that do not reach Ofcom’s ‘acceptable’ minimum speed of 10Mbit/s. 3.5 million of these people live in rural areas.
      • Poor internet connections are costing the UK economy up to £11 billion per year.
      • 42% of SMEs report experiencing problems with their internet connectivity and 29% also report poor service reliability.
      • Following the announcement that BT will be merging with EE it has been calculated that BT will have a 40% share of the retail telecoms market and a 70% share of the wholesale market.
      • The time has come for BT to be forced to sell off Openreach to encourage more competition and a better service for every internet user and for the benefit of the UK economy.


      In fairness we don’t entirely agree with the first point as, for all its faults in other areas (e.g. BT’s dominance of contracts, lack of support for altnets, overbuilding etc.), the Broadband Delivery UK programme has made reasonable progress and is still delivering a significant boost to national superfast broadband connectivity (example). A pure fibre (FTTH/P) network would have taken many years longer to roll-out, required many billions more of investment and would have also struggled to reach rural areas (except via altnets).

      Sadly the report doesn’t set out a detailed plan for what should replace Openreach or indeed explain how the new structure might be able to deliver where BT has failed, which is again an area that seems to have been left up to Ofcom.

      Funnily enough one of BT’s most outspoken critics, Chi Onwurah MP (Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture & the Digital Economy), isn’t named on the report, but ISPreview.co.uk did manage to catch up with her for a comment yesterday. Onwurah actually worked with Ofcom as part of their last Strategic Review in 2005 and so has some unique insight.

      Chi Onwurah MP told ISPreview.co.uk:

      The structure of BT/Openreach is a complex issue, I worked on it as Head of Telecoms Technology for Ofcom during the Strategic review of Telecoms ten years ago. As we saw with the splitting and then re-integration of the Baby Bells, creating a sustainable separate entity can be difficult.

      As such it is not a decision best made by politicians but for the competition authority and the sector regulator. I believe Ofcom need the political cover to make the best decision in the interests of consumers and business in the UK, without being intimidated by phalanxes of lawyers.


      I regret that this Government does not seem to be providing that cover, with Ed Vaizey almost acting as BT’s mouthpiece at times. I also believe strongly that competition delivers the best outcome for consumers and businesses and that the market is suffering from a lack of competition in the provision of superfast broadband
      .”
      On the consumer side BT is often perceived to be the evil empire of UK telecoms, which is the price that most big businesses tend to pay for being so dominant and having such control. But for all their faults they have also done a lot of good service delivery, even though we tend to expect considerably more.

      However if Ofcom is to replace the incumbent with a new approach then we can only hope they design one that delivers something better and fairer, albeit without dramatic price rises or slowing down the delivery of faster connectivity. Easier said than done; all eyes towards Ofcom.


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      Re: BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

      How do you know when a politician is lying?

      When his lips are moving.

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      Re: BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

      we need a 3rd player in the market
      if someone huge started rolling gigabit out en mass
      say google

      within weeks openreach would magicly start offering fttp for fttc prices

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      Re: BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

      There are already a few of players who are bust installing gigabit networks across the country. These ones come to mind:


      • B4RN
      • Gigaclear
      • CityFibre


      There are a few others, but these seem to get the most press.

      Whilst CityFibre has teamed up with both TalkTalk and Sky to develop networks in York, for example, mostly they are all doing it on their own.

      It would make good sense for them to team up and open up their respective networks on a wholesale basis, much like BTO was forced to do. Perhaps then their respective networks would be able to roll out across the whole UK at a better pace.

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      Previous ADSL2+ Speed 19999 kbps 1153 kbps, Line Attenuation 17.5 db 6.9 db, Noise Margin 7.5 dB 8.7 dB
      Speedtest: 17.15MB/s 0.97Mb/s Ping 31 ms

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      Re: BAD NEWS for BT as 121 Cross-party UK MPs Call for Openreach Split

      BT has this country by the balls and their infrastructure is crap and the best thing forward is Openreach to move away and perhaps one day the broadband in this country will compete with other European country's and not make us look like we are still in the dark ages.
      Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own and in no way represent the views or policies of my employer.


     

     

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