Telecoms minister Ed Vaizey has express concern about the idea of forcing BT to separate from its Openreach network, disappointing rival companies in the process.
Competitors have been calling for BT to be divided amid concerns about monopoly. Ofcom has already hinted that separating Openreach from its parent company could be the way forward and will be publishing the findings of its review in the New Year; however, Mr Vaizey said that separating the broadband network from BT would be a huge task with many potential backfires, although he is waiting for Ofcom’s findings before a decision is made. He believes that current regulations have been effective in preventing BT having a monopoly in the residential and business broadband market.
Rival companies are concerned that BT is empire-building, especially in view of its acquisition of EE and the push towards pay TV services. Despite the reservations of Mr Vaizey, the regulator is likely to listen to the fact that internet users in the UK are generally dissatisfied, even though services are supposed to be improving.
Mr Vaizey said that BT’s roll-out of faster broadband in the UK is going well and that the projects are all set to come in on time. He also pointed out that the UK is one of the leading countries in e-commerce. He added that the claims of the rival companies are fairly standard and that he has heard similar concerns before.
The minister confirmed that plans are being drawn up to provide superfast broadband to the parts of the country that so not currently have this provision.