ITSPA, the trade body for the next generation communications industry in the UK, voiced its satisfaction today surrounding Ofcom’s announcement that it is proceeding with the legal separation of Openreach from BT. However, it did stress that full structural separation should remain as a potential option, should the necessary performance improvements within Openreach not materialise.
Reacting to the news, Eli Katz, Chair of ITSPA stated “Members of ITSPA are pleased that Ofcom has so far held its ground in relation to both a voluntary plan from BT that didn’t address all their concerns, and the more radical calls for a riskier full separation. Whilst we are aware of the range of opinions across the industry, and indeed amongst some members of ITSPA, in our opinion the proposals have a chance of delivering the fastest and least disruptive reforms to Openreach’s practices. This should result in improvements in Ofcom’s performance, service levels and reduce costs for both individuals and businesses in the UK.”
Katz continued “Despite ITSPA’s support and preference for legal separation, the option of full structural separation should not be completely ruled out if the reformed Openreach still suffers from the same issues regarding performance as it did prior to legal separation”.
Concluding, Katz stated “It is essential that Ofcom closely monitors the performance of the legally separated Openreach and also focuses on the other steps that need to be taken to ensure a competitive telecoms industry in the UK that addresses the needs of consumers and businesses alike. This includes reform of the landline switching system which is currently failing to operate satisfactorily, particularly in the business space. We are awaiting further details surrounding Ofcom’s proposed changes in this area, following their strategic review and believe this aspect of switching requires immediate attention.”