Sunday, 31 July 2016 18:37

Watchdog plan 'will improve broadband'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Watchdog plan 'will improve broadband'

Splitting network provider Openreach from parent company BT could improve UK broadband coverage, says telecoms watchdog Ofcom.

Ofcom said making Openreach a legally distinct company with its own board would help make digital communications work for everyone.

Under the plan, Openreach would be obliged to consult formally with customers such as Sky and TalkTalk on large-scale investments.

Strategy and control over budget allocation would also be separate.

Openreach should have its own brand, distinct from the BT Group, to help embed the organisational culture of a distinct company, said Ofcom.

This would provide Openreach with the greatest degree of independence from BT – without incurring the costs and disruption associated with separating the companies entirely.

It is designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers.

If it cannot achieve this, Ofcom said it would reconsider whether BT and Openreach should be split into two entirely separate companies, under different ownership.

Ofcom says its plan would make it possible for competitors to connect their own fibre optic cables directly to homes and businesses.

It says this would deliver more choice for people and businesses over the next decade, while reducing the UK's reliance on the Openreach network.

Ofcom chief exetutive : "We're pressing ahead with the biggest shake-up of telecoms in a decade, to make sure the market is delivering the best possible services for people and business."

The plans include making Openreach provide an online database showing the physical location and characteristics of its ducts and poles - a 'digital map' of the UK.

New rules giving telecoms providers further rights to access physical infrastructure came into force on Sunday (31 July).

These measures are designed to reduce the cost of deploying broadband networks, by sharing access to infrastructure across different sectors.

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