Ofcom could demand BT and Openreach break-up


BT's days as an all encompassing broadband business could soon be over after an Ofcom paper suggested that sweeping changes should be made to the way Openreach works.

Ofcom's tweaks would see the Openreach networking arm completely detached from the company's retail business in order to remove any chance of discrimination when services are provided to its competitors.

The review will look to address to issues concerning performance and is starting to collect views and evidence that will allow it to change future regulation. These relate to whether the current model should be retained, strengthened, Openreach completely separated from BT, or a method of deregulation to allow increased competition from the likes of Virgin Media and others.

In response to the news, BT chief executive Gavin Patterson told the BBC that it was a "mistake for the country as a whole" for there to be a debate over whether to split Openreach away from BT and pointed to the progress being made to bring fibre-optic broadband to large swathes of the UK.

Big six months for BT

Ofcom has left the door open for evidence and responses to the current discussion document until October 8. That will eventually give way to a statement at the end of the year that will inform Ofcom's regulatory activities for the coming decade.

BT is also still waiting to hear back from the Government's Competition and Markets Authority on whether it can take over EE for £12.5 billion and provide a powerful quad-play service of TV, broadband, mobile and landline telephone.