MP: Ofcom report on BT/Openreach "a step in the right direction"

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the findings of Ofcom’s broadband review, but has warned that the onus remains on Openreach to improve its performance.

The review by the communications regulator, published last week, set out a number of major changes including tightening the regulation of Openreach, forcing its network to be opened up more to competitors, and new requirements to improve service levels, and broadband coverage.

Mr Herbert said: "I have been vocal for some time about the unacceptable performance of BT Openreach, not just in my constituency but around the country, and the need for action by Ofcom to shake up the broadband market.

“The review goes some way towards delivering that action.  Measures to tighten the governance of Openreach to ensure that it acts in a truly independent and competitive way are positive.

“Ofcom has also left the option of structural separation on the table.  This is a clear message to BT Openreach that it needs to improve its game and start to deliver the level of investment in broadband infrastructure that the UK needs”.

Mr Herbert also welcomed tough new requirements on Openreach in relation to fixing faults and installing new lines, performance tables for operators, and automatic compensation for customers for loss of service.

The MP said: “Ofcom’s commitment to introduce a comprehensive map of broadband coverage by postcode will also mean that we can finally get an accurate and independent picture of the gaps in broadband coverage in this area.

“Today good broadband is a necessity, not a luxury.  Yet too many of my constituents are unable to access even basic broadband services.

“The Government and West Sussex County Council's action on broadband, following my summit five years ago, has undoubtedly meant that many more households now have access to super-fast connections.  But a digital divide is opening up as rural areas are left behind, and my constituents tell me that Openreach's standards of service are frequently poor. 

“The measures announced today are an important step forward, but the jury remains firmly out on BT’s performance and on the question of whether Openreach is sufficiently independent to meet today's and future broadband needs”, concluded Mr Herbert.

ENDS

Notes

   1.     Ofcom’s report can be read at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/policy/digital-comms-review/dcr-feb-16/.

   2.     Information on Nick Herbert’s ongoing work on broadband can be read at http://www.nickherbert.com/media_centre.php?title=broadband&month=0&year=&media_library_categories=2&action=search&submitted=Search.