Industry offers 10-point plan for Openreach

The Federation of Communications Services (FCS), the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone have sent Ofcom CEO Sharon White a letter with their recommendations on how Openreach could be improved for the sake of everyone.

As a reminder, Ofcom has been stretched between BT on one side, and TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone and friends on the other, over the future of the service which owns telephone cables connecting pretty much every business and household in the country.

The letter offers a ten-point plan on what needs to be done in order to improve the quality of the service. Here's what the letter says:

Reforming Openreach’s governance so it can act independently

Giving Openreach clear purpose and accountability by:

Establishing Openreach as a legally separate company

  1. Creating an independent Openreach Board
  2. Creating an independent body to oversee the transition and act as an adjudicator
  3. Giving Openreach the tools it needs to succeed

Creating a confident and ambitious Openreach that has the autonomy to plan for the future by:

Giving Openreach full control and ownership of its assets

  1. Ensuring Openreach has its own standalone corporate identity and brand
  2. Allowing Openreach to be financially independent and make its own investment decisions
  3. Creating an Openreach that delivers for all

Making sure that Openreach serves the whole market fairly to improve choice, value and quality for its customers by:

  1. Providing all Openreach services on the same basis, no matter the customer
  2. Ensuring that Openreach consults with all of its customers about its future strategy and proposed investments
  3. Introducing competition to Openreach by making BT Consumer’s procurement truly contestable
  4. Ensuring that Openreach does not inhibit investment by independent network operators

“We believe it’s vital the people who decide what ‘good’ looks like should be Openreach’s customers,” says Chris Pateman, CEO of the Federation of Communication Services, whose members specialise in serving Britain’s 5million business customers. “Frankly, FCS was disappointed Ofcom’s review of digital communications stopped short of recommending the complete structural separation of Openreach from the BT Group. Ofcom believe improvements can be delivered without the hassle and delays of a full separation: our 10-point plan represents the industry’s proposals on how this can be accomplished.

"Importantly, as our plan makes clear, we believe this can be accomplished swiftly and cost-effectively, using well-proven corporate governance principles. And it can be benchmarked against experience from other regulated utilities, both in the UK and overseas.

"We are throwing down a challenge, underpinned by sound research and experience. A challenge to Ofcom, Openreach and the industry to work together to shape the future for the good of all market players and all customers."