Openreach makes ‘good progress’ in meeting regulatory requirements | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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Ofcom has given official approval to the progress made by BT’s broadband provision division Openreach in meeting strategic independence and sustainable processes Commitments that the UK comms regulator laid down in 2016.
Openreach fibre 15Jan2020
At that time, the regulator decided that in order to allow people in the UK to have access to faster and more reliable broadband Openreach needed greater independence to ensure it could operate in the interests of all its customers. This decision has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and has been supported by the current UK government’s ambition to provide gigabit connectivity across the UK by 2025. Ofcom instigated a programme of reform by BT Group intended to address its concerns and deliver better outcomes for consumers and businesses.

In July 2017, Ofcom accepted commitments from BT to reform Openreach and in July 2019 we issued our first full annual monitoring report covering the period to March 2019. In that report Ofcom noted that while real progress had been made implementing new arrangements, more needed to be done to strengthen Openreach’s independence and engagement with its customers.

In its latest Annual Monitoring Report Covering the period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 Ofcom said that despite clear progress by Openreach, and an acceleration in deploying gigabit broadband across the UK, there was no room for complacency and continued focus and vigilance was needed to ensure progress continued, as was fully embedded and sustainable. Indeed Ofcom noted that BT has increased its full-fibre rollout ambitions to reach 20 million premises by the mid to late 2020s and Openreach’s FTTP deployment was continuing at scale and pace across the UK enabled by significant BT investment.

Ofcom added that it could see beneath the surface of the stated ambitions, Openreach had independently worked up its commercial business case which was scrutinised and challenged by BT Group through established governance processes before the final investment decision was made. Ofcom said that it would continue to monitor how the investment needed to support this ambition is delivered.

The 2020 review of Openreach’s performance also saw Ofcom welcome the action taken by the company during the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and observed that it was working closely and constructively with industry to help homes across the UK stay connected. This it said included delivering new, and maintaining existing, telecoms infrastructure. Ofcom calculated that at the end of March 2020, Openreach had built full-fibre connections out to 2.6 million premises, what it called a notable increase from the 1.2 million noted at the same time in 2019, and was reaching on average 32,000 new premises with full fibre each week.

However, Ofcom also stressed that some feedback indicates that not all stakeholders think the separation between BT and Openreach is working as they consider it should. Some industry stakeholders raised their concerns about the potential for undue BT Group influence over Openreach pricing decisions.