Sky Calls For Openreach Separation As BT-Ofcom Talks ‘Falter’

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Sky calls for BT Openreach to be separated (again), arguing UK could fall behind rivals. Meanwhile, talks on independence have stagnated

Sky has reiterated its call for Ofcom to make Openreach a fully independent organisation amid reports that talks between the regulator and BT have stalled.

Andrew Griffith, Sky COO and CFO, said BT’s unwillingness to invest in fibre to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure while other countries pressed ahead with ultrafast broadband meant the UK could fall behind in terms of competitiveness.

Sky, TalkTalk and CityFibre have achieved their cost targets in a trial of FTTP in York and claim they want to take the model nationwide. But despite this success, they still want Openreach to be separated from BT.

BT Openreach future

BT“As we prepare for a post-Brexit world Britain needs to be even more productive to prosper,” he said. “To be competitive, we must ensure that we have the right core infrastructure in place.

“A fully independent Openreach would be a sizeable new UK FTSE 100 company able to attract capital from investors looking for stable, utility-like infrastructure returns. And it would have a clear and single-minded purpose – to treat all of its customers equally and to raise its quality of service.

“It would be able to reinvest its significant profits into improving the network rather than funding other projects, and it would open up opportunities for its wholesale customers to become long term partners, collaborating in a way that is simply not possible now.”

Both Sky and TalkTalk are supporters of the ‘Fix Britain’s Internet’ campaign urging Brits to voice their concerns to Ofcom ahead of the deadline for submissions in response to the initial findings of the regulator’s once in a decade review of the UK communications market tomorrow.

Ongoing talks

“The reality Ofcom must now confront is that for Britain it is a matter of when, and not if, Openreach becomes a truly independent business,” added Griffiths. “And if Ofcom won’t take action, the Government itself must consider what needs to be done so that we can move forward with the crucial task of building the digital infrastructure that our nation needs.”

HPLast month, Openreach CEO Clive Selley told journalists that BT needed to “get the facts out there” and combat claims made by its opponents that the UK has inferior broadband to other nations and is adamant that plans to deliver ultrafast broadband via a mixture of FTTP and G.Fast (which speeds up copper connections) are the best way forward.

Regulator Ofcom has not ruled out separation but is keen to reach a voluntary agreement with BT that would grant Openreach independence. However a report in the Financial Times claims talks between the two parties have not moved forward significantly since July.

According to the paper, BT is opposed to plans for the Openreach CEO to report directly to the BT board, not CEO Gavin Patterson, and how about pension liabilities would be structured.

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