Should Ofcom Force a BT/ Openreach Separation?

Communications provider Entanet says that positive action is needed and calls on financial penalties to be imposed on Openreach as current levels of service are unacceptable

Entanet calls for positive action being taken to force Openreach to deliver higher levels of service – but questions whether Ofcom should impose a forced separation between the company and BT.

Neil Watson, Head of Service at Entanet, says that his company does believe that the companies do need to be made more accountable and Openreach must be made to up its game. “The current levels of service are simply not acceptable and a more effective solution needs to be found for the good of the whole industry”, he states.

At present, he says, all communications providers receive equally poor levels of service from Openreach and that it does appear to favour other BT companies in some situations. Watson dismisses BT’s assertion that any enforced separation from Openreach would threaten investment as “questionable” and points out that the company is continuing to plough millions into buying the rights to sporting events.

One alternative to a complete division, he suggests, is for Openreach to be hit with financial penalties if it does not perform to acceptable standards. “What we really need is effective economic sanctions to improve provision and repair times for all customers. As an industry, we need Openreach to be held to account for the poor service experienced by the multitude of CPs forced to use its services. We need improved install and fix times, with meaningful Service Level Guarantee payments for delays and clear and effective escalation paths that actually provide a suitable resolution at the end.”

This, he argues, might focus Openreach on delivering a higher level of service than the industry currently experiences. At present, providers are unable to put any real pressure on the organisation and the rules that attempt to impose ‘equivalence’ only forces service levels to be driven down to the lowest common denominator which, Watson says, “simply isn’t acceptable.”

Comms Business will be looking at this topic in the next issue so stay tuned!

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine