As Openreach legally separates from BT, Ofcom expects the newly reformed phone and broadband provider to engage with industry in order to deliver widespread fibre networks, offering fast, reliable broadband.
Ofcom and BT agreed to the biggest ever reform of Openreach back in March. This came after Ofcom’s concerns that BT had retained control of Openreach’s decisions, failing to consult other telecoms providers on investment plans.
Openreach will become a separate company with its own staff, management and strategy, with a legal obligation to serve all its customers equally. The new company should provide a good service to meet the needs of all the people and businesses who rely on its network, together with a step change in quality of service.
With BT committed to ensuring Openreach effectively serves the whole industry, Ofcom will measure improvements to its network and delivery of better quality service.
Failure to comply on BT’s part will result in a re-visit of the model and consideration of new measures.
Since the separation, Openreach has a new Chairman and Board, with the majority of members having no affiliation with the BT Group.
Openreach has also set up its own compliance committee and is consulting publicly on a new process for engaging with telecoms companies on planned services and investments.
Ofcom will monitor broadband speeds of all UK consumers and businesses using the Openreach network, ensuring they have a service that meets their needs. The expectation is that Openreach will contribute to growing fibre broadband networks, including ‘full-fibre’ lines.
Ofcom also want to see a step change in telecoms quality of service and will report on Openreach’s repair and installation times, as well as time taken for engineers to turn up for repairs and faults.
The telecoms regulator will publish its findings six months after the commitments come into effect, and then every year.
Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “The new Openreach will be built to serve all its customers equally, acting independently and taking investment decisions on behalf of all its customers.
“BT has made positive progress towards implementing the reforms. Once they are complete, Ofcom will keep a careful eye on whether Openreach is working for telecoms users, ensuring BT and Openreach live by the letter and spirit of their commitments. If we see problems emerging, we won’t hesitate to act.”
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