Openreach likely to stay in BT's arms

The dispute between BT and other telecommunications operators in the UK over Openreach will get its closure this Thursday, when Ofcom releases its Digital Communications Review.

According to City A.M, chances are BT and Openreach will not split, much to the dissatisfaction of BT's competition, Vodafone, Sky, and TalkTalk.

City A.M cites CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore, who said the separation is unlikely:

“We believe a full separation of Openreach is unlikely. Ofcom has acknowledged that the current system, in which Openreach operates as separate unit, has provided choice.”

However, that most likely won’t be the end of the story. Ofcom is expected to change the conditions under which BT’s competition is allowed to use Openreach, including easier access to the cable network, and local exchanges to install their equipment.

It is also being speculated that Ofcom might limit how much money BT can earn from Openreach. A TalkTalk spokesperson told City A.M.: “We are all agreed a radical change is needed.”

The last we heard of the BT / Openreach debate, Ofcom’s CEO Sharon White gave four different roads the problem can take.

Structural separation was one of the options, as well as maintaining status quo, more deregulation and making the existing system “more fit to purpose”. Now it looks like the problem will take path number four.

“I think there will be change,” she told BBC’s tech correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones. “We’re looking at a number of options, but I think it is very unlikely we will conclude that the status quo which has worked over the last 10 years is where we are likely to be over the next decade.”