BT action over Openreach

BT has welcomed Ofcoms proposals for better coverage and faster speeds
BT has welcomed Ofcoms proposals for better coverage and faster speeds

BT has welcomed Ofcom proposals to make its Openreach division a “distinct company” within the BT group rather than face a full sell-off.

BT shares rose 3% after Ofcom proposed major reform of the division of BT which develops and maintains the UK’s main telecoms network used by telephone and broadband providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone.

The firm has faced calls for Openreach to be split off from the rest of the group.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said the company was introducing “significant changes” to meet the concerns of Ofcom and the industry, adding: “These changes will make Openreach more independent and transparent than it is today, something both Ofcom and industry have requested.

“Openreach is committed to delivering better service, broader coverage and faster speeds and these changes will enable it to do just that.

“Our proposals can form the basis for a fair and sustainable regulatory settlement and we believe they can also enable Ofcom to bring its review to a speedier conclusion.”

He said the “more extreme solutions proposed by others” would be complex, disproportionately costly and time consuming to implement and “would also undermine Openreach’s ability to invest and create years of uncertainty”.

The proposals include making Openreach a distinct company with its own board, including a majority of non-executive directors not affiliated to BT Group.

Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said: “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 across the UK.”