Ofcom will have a unit to closely monitor Openreach

Tuesday, July 18th 2017

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has announced a series of measures, including a dedicated Openreach Monitoring Unit, to monitor the transition of Openreach towards a legal separation from its parent company BT. The unit will asses whether the new governance rules are being observed by Openreach. It will also monitor on Openreach's decisions and treatment of all its communications service provider (CSP) customers, on its being fair and equal, on acting independently of BT. It will watch whether they both abide by the letter and spirit of their commitments. The unit will also watch on how BT is delivering its commitments in Northern Ireland.. A new protocol for Northern Ireland has been made, as Openreach does not operate there, and to ensure both businesses and consumers there receive the same treatment as meted out to the rest of the country.

Chief Executive of Ofcom, Sharon White, said the new Openreach would be built to act independently, to serve all customers equally and to take investment decisions on behalf of all CSP customers. Ofcom will also watch to ensure all users of Openreach's network get a broadband of acceptable speed and quality of service. They will watch if Openreach is making a satisfying contribution to improvement of Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband for availability and whether it is responsive to CSP customers proposing different investment models, such as for co-investment, for making improvements on installation and repair times and to reducing missed appointments. The unit set up will publish its finding of the first 6 months. After commitments come into effect, it would publish every 12 months thereafter.

Ever since the agreement in March 2017 to legally separate, both organisations have worked closely to implement together the changes. A new independent chairman and board has been already appointed by Openteach. A compliance committee has started consulting with the CSP customers on finding out the best way to deliver widespread broadband on FTTP.

Sharon White said BT has made positive progress and once reforms are completed, Ofcom will keep an eye on Openreach, to ensure both organisations live by the letter and spirit of their commitments. The chief executive also added that if they saw problems arising, they wouldn't hesitate to act!

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