BT has hit back at TalkTalk's claims it is building a government-funded fibre broadband monopoly, saying the rival provider is 'hobbling' the UK economy by not backing the new technology.
CEO Sir Ian Livingstone said those opposing the company's nationwide rollout of superfast broadband speeds are "copper Luddites" seeking to preserve their own interests.
He said TalkTalk, specifically chairman Sir Charles Dunstone, should keep quiet unless the company is also willing to invest in upgrading its network and providing faster speeds for customers.
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Livingstone said: "These criticisms are coming from people I can only describe as copper Luddites. They don't want to see the UK getting fibre. BT fibre is open to any provider in the UK on the same terms as BT – there are 50 or 60 of them, that's not what I call a monopoly."
He said rival companies "are trying to stop the fibre programme so they can sweat their own copper assets. They are not prepared to invest in fibre. It's a shame they want to hobble the UK economy for their own commercial reasons."
BT has committed to investing £2.5 billion on building the fibre infrastructure, but is also receiving significant contributions from the public purse.
The company is so far the only company to win contracts for the government's £680m rural broadband fund and now Fujitsu has backed out of the bidding process, BT is the only horse in the race.
This led to accusations from Dunstone that BT is being allowed to build the same monopoly it held over the telecoms market in the 1980s and 90s.
He told the FT last week: "We need to regulate fibre – and to check where the [state] money is going. There is so much government money going into subsidising higher broadband speeds but no one really knows where it is going and how it is being spent."