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BT Warned Over Super-Fast Broadband “Monopoly”

Some controversy has arisen over BT's position in the UK's super-fast broadband infrastructure, and whether or not it's monopolising the market.

The latest storm concerning the roll out of next-generation broadband has been brought about by the comments of the shadow business minister, Chi Onwurah. She even went as far as to tell the House of Lords that the company could potentially have to be split into two halves, should it be deemed to be making too much of a broadband land grab.

Onwurah said: "BT must be made to understand that if superfast broadband is a monopoly, they will not be allowed to enjoy it. I think structural separation is something we are going to have to look at. It's a significant intervention and BT would rightly complain but monopoly provision of superfast broadband just isn't an acceptable option."

Harsh words indeed. They come off the back of Virgin Media complaints about the majority of the government's broadband investment pot seeming destined to flow into BT's bank account.

Thirty-five councils have signed up to the government's BDUK (Broadband development UK) framework, yet only two companies are competing for the contracts to install that fibre - BT and Fujitsu.

Onwurah warned the UK was "sleepwalking" into a monopoly, and added: "The government is doing so much to get competition into the NHS where nobody really wants it, and doing so little to get competition into telecoms where everybody agrees it is the best way."

For its part, BT said that if the firm was halved as the shadow minister suggests, that would mean the taxpayer would have to stump up more money to subsidise the country-wide super-fast roll out.

BT is currently investing £2.5 billion of its own cash as part of the drive to push out FTTC across the majority of the UK - and it notes that Virgin has done little to expand its network outside larger urban populations.

Onwurah also called for regulation of the prices Openreach charges to sevice providers when it comes to fibre.

Source: The Guardian