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Poll Results: What the public said about an Openreach split
Tuesday 21 July 2015 16:15:20 by Andrew Ferguson

The CEO at Ofcom Sharon White has firmly come out on the side of the consumer and is apparently refusing to bow to the tactics of the BT Group now that the consultation is underway on what should have in the communications market.

When it was clear the review was going to happen in 2015 we ran a poll in March 2015 asking visitors whether they believed Ofcom should split Openreach away from the BT Group. The poll was run then as this was before all the commercial entities involved had really got onto the bandwagon of ensuring their viewpoints featured prominently, so hopefully the responses reflect a little more what the public feeling is, rather than the latest headline they have read.

User voting on should Ofcom split Openreach away from BT
Click image for full size version.

6 out of 10 from the over 1,600 who took part in the poll seem to support the option that Ofcom has to split Openreach away from the BT Group, which supports the view of some communication providers. What is more interesting is when asked whether this would be a good deal for rural broadband those saying this would be a good dropped to just under 4 out of 10.

Would separating Openreach be positive change for rural areas
Click image for full size version.

The difference between the two questions represent the difficult decisions faced by Ofcom, and the response to the second question is even more relevant when you consider that once Virgin Media completes it Lightning roll-out we should have ultrafast broadband available to 70% of the UK compared to the current 48.5% (slightly higher than existing Ofcom figures as we have started to see extra coverage), and while the BDUK projects are delivering ultrafast FTTP and some phase 2 projects have FTTP from Gigaclear on the way the vast majority of that final 30% will be rural areas.

Irrespective of what the BT CEO says when warning about a legal quagmire, if the decision from Ofcom stretches on into late 2016 and beyond this period of uncertainty carries a real risk of stalling any new investment in the UK broadband future, as players may not be able to factor in the effect of an unleashed Openreach versus the relative tame beast it is now (tame as in measured stepped roll-out, i.e. fibre to cabinets, now starting pushing fibre deeper and maybe the final leap to widespread FTTP from 2022 onwards).

What we do know is that complaints about long lead times for installs and repair visits continue to happen, perhaps not at the volume of the 2012 period, but as broadband becomes more important to home and the SME world the voraciousness appears higher. How much the performance levels are influencing people to call for the full split is unknown. The data we have seen shows lead times for installs show a 7 day average in Q2/2015 compared to 11 days in Q1/2014 and Ethernet lead times have dropped by 13 days to the current 27 days for locations needing no new network, for those needing new network work it is longer at 65 days (a four day improvement). The timeframes are working days, which means Monday to Friday.


Posted by Dodgertoo about 1 year ago
Cherry picking will be the order of the day leaving rural area's a poor second
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
more rurul you are the more expensive you will bill and there fore there has to be a VFM view if that is public money as there will be on commercial case for an operator to deploy there -- the more that gets fragmented the worse it will be
Posted by taras about 1 year ago
We already pay extra for rural broadband. Plusnet separates this, others average it out for everyone yet we still needed bduk and then bduk (which partly is funded by the bbc license fee) so there is a problem at bt in understanding rural bb!
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
@taras you need to blame the right people for PlusNet higher price in rural area. The right people to blame are OFCOM. OFCOM requires BT prices to be artificially high where there is no competition to encourage competition in. They do not require that where there is competition so BT can offer lower prices.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
As clarification by BT I am meaning their wholesale services to ISPs rather than BT retail.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
And local loop for ADSL2+ services has TalkTalk as an option to 95 to 96% of UK premises.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
It is not actually in Ofcom's power to compel BT to divest itself of Openreach. Unless BT did this voluntarily, they can only refer it to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) along with a recommendation, for an investigation. That can take years. That can take a very long time and the outcome is uncertain.
There are also such little issues to sort out like allocation of borrowing, pension deficit liabilities and much else. Also, shareholder interests have to be considered.
Posted by taras about 1 year ago
@ian72 Ofcom's idea was sensible if BT had done the right right and invested in rural bb properly but it was a half baked idea because ofcom didn't/couldn't force bt use that money to invest in Rural bb.
Posted by MrBukey about 1 year ago
Hopefully the CMA will force a split of Openreach to be completely standalone. Then its board can make decisions that are for the benefit of Openreach and not the wider BT Group.

Add a levy or tax to each Openreach service which can be used to create grants for other providers to add infrastructure to compete with Openreach's...

Then add a levy or tax to each of those services able to be provided by way of those grants and use that to provide infrastructure in rural and poorly connected errors.

Win for Openreach, win for competition and win for consumer....
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
As each day passes many rurial customers are being passed by Openreach once this starts to reduce you will find fibre will start to be more prevalent and costs and service will improve. The size of Openreach will reduce as the work is taken over by contractors.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
@blackmamba. You are spot on, many of us are being passed by, by Openreach. There needs to be moral hazard for the BT group for choosing to fail to deliver to large parts of the UK rural population. The OFCOM and CMA should take this into account. Like banks, they are being bailed out of their responsibility are the encubant provider.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
@taras you hit the nail on the head when you use the word "investment". BT are a company, when they "invest" they need a return. The economics for this sort of infrastructure in rural areas don't stack up for a company that has shareholders. Rural areas are difficult to make a profit for a company like BT (or Virgin who could also roll out if they wanted).
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
@Llety as per my response to taras BT do not have a responsibility to anyone - their only requirement is to provide phone line and dial up. Government could choose to change that but suspect they would have to provide BT with funding to do so. There are also a number of urban areas that have been missed. Even at 95% there are still 5% that won't have service - they have to be somewhere.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
I cannot see that splitting Openreach from BT would make any difference to rural broadband. It is only Government money that will give us improvements.
If it is split the pace of the roll out will probably slacken because Openreach will be distracted by the upheaval.
Posted by Bob_s2 about 1 year ago
A separate wholly owned BT subsidiary company is the simplest way to split it. That way you get full transparency of costs. With the current set up Openreach will for example be picking up a part of the BT Corporate costs as well as a part of Central R&D costs

A separate Openreach has its own board and its own P&L.

The claim by some that a separate Openreach will ignore rural areas does not stand up. Openreach operates on a commercial basis. An area is either profitable of not. If it is not it will need to be subsidised

Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
If you seperate Openreach they will be pulled to make a quick return on all transactions thus cherry picking will take place and that will effect all ISP,s ( customers). I feel that Openreach over the last year has improve greatly and with the average times dropping under the new rotas on line faults and provides.
Posted by taras about 1 year ago
When consumers are effectively "Taxed" for rural broadband then yes bt should and does have a responsibility ..

Taxed on your broadband
Taxed on your bbc license.
Taxed via eu fund

Posted by Gadget about 1 year ago
@Bob_s2 Openreach already has its own board, own headquarters, separate accounting and reporting and external oversight via the EAB. What else does commercially separate have over and above the current functionally separate situation at present?
Posted by zort70 about 1 year ago
The problem with Openreach for me is you can't get direct access to them as a company, you have to go through BT retail / business or one of the other providers.

They are not accountable to anyone apart from the service level agreements they have, they have no "customer" interaction.

With our own BDUK rollout programme I can't get any info from our local council as Openreach won't give them any, because it isn't in the contract.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
Openreach still won't be available to the end user even if they are spun off. Openreach service is wholesale and therefore there customer will always be the SPs that buy their services. The last thing an SP wants is for someone to bypass them and go direct to Openreach as they would lose control of their service.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
Zort I assume they wont tell you if your are covered -- or not -- well that not surprising you they probably know but but don't want to share it - some counties are more forthcoming --also depends what you are asking for
Posted by Bob_s2 about 1 year ago
Quote"@Bob_s2 Openreach already has its own board, own headquarters, separate accounting and reporting and external oversight via the EAB. What else does commercially separate have over and above the current functionally separate situation at present? "

INCORRECT. Openreach is a separate business unit of the BT group. It is not a separate company nor does it have its own board or its own company accounts
Posted by Gadget about 1 year ago
@Bob_s2: I never suggested it was a separate company but you appear to be at odds with the Ofcom documentation here:,especially sections 5.23-5.46 where it specifies a separate management board and separate accounts with oversight from the EAB and Ofcom.
Posted by Gadget about 1 year ago
Apologies for the mis-copy in the previous post the correct link is
Posted by rkimber about 1 year ago
BT support sometimes say it's a separate company as an excuse for not being able to fix your problem (happened to me).
Openreach should be separated and nationalised. Privatisation has held back broadband development.
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