Thursday, 27 July 2017

Ofcom announces plans for holding Openreach to account

Total Telecom Staff
Thursday 13 July 17

UK regulator reveals new unit to monitor BT’s compliance with Openreach separation agreement

Ofcom has said it is to launch a new Openreach Monitoring Unit to ensure its recent agreement to make the network business distinct from BT is complied with. It expects the reformed Openreach, which will be entirely distinct – as opposed to just functionally separate – from BT, to engage with industry to deliver widespread fibre networks…

Ofcom has said it is to launch a new Openreach Monitoring Unit to ensure its recent agreement to make the network business distinct from BT is complied with. It expects the reformed Openreach, which will be entirely distinct – as opposed to just functionally separate – from BT, to engage with industry to deliver widespread fibre networks, offering fast, reliable broadband. The new company should provide a good service to meet the needs of all the people and businesses which rely on its network, together with a step change in quality of service, the regulator says.

BT agreed in March 2017 to Ofcom’s requirements for the biggest ever reform of Openreach, its network division. The changes mean Openreach becomes a distinct company with its own staff, management and strategy, and a legal purpose to serve all its customers equally.

Ofcom will closely monitor BT’s compliance with its new commitments, and how effectively Openreach serves the whole industry. The regulator will measure how far Openreach is improving its network and helping to deliver better quality of service. Should it become clear the new Openreach was not working, or BT was failing to comply with its commitments, Ofcom would revisit the model and consider new measures to address any concerns.

Since March, BT and Openreach have taken positive steps towards implementing the new commitments, which we welcome. Openreach has a new chairman, with the majority of members having no affiliation with BT Group. Openreach has set up its own compliance committee, and is consulting publicly on a new process for engaging with telecoms companies on planned services and investments.

Ofcom will examine whether all UK consumers and businesses using Openreach’s network are receiving decent speeds, and the right service to meet their needs. We will measure, and report on, Openreach’s contribution to growing fibre broadband networks, including ‘full-fibre’ lines which are currently available to only around 2% of UK premises.

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

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