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Vaizey sceptical of the BT Openreach splitting plan

In the battle between BT on one side, and Ofcom, Sky and TalkTalk on the other, over whether or not Openreach should be split from the national broadband network, Minister Ed Vaizey has taken a stand.

Talking to the Financial Times, he admitted he is sceptical of the plan, and that such a huge undertaking could backfire in a number of ways.

Ofcom is currently looking at taking Openreach away from BT, a move welcomed by BT’s competitors, Sky and TalkTalk. The move is being considered arguing that Openreach could achieve more and move faster without BT.

“I think full separation would be an enormous undertaking, incredibly time consuming [and have] lots of potential to backfire,” Mr Vaizey told the Financial Times. “Ofcom is looking at it, I am a sceptic but we will have to see what Ofcom comes out with.”

“We would go with the trend of the [Ofcom] review,” he insisted, adding that “regulations have proved very effective” so far.

Sky and TalkTalk would very much like to see Openreach “freed” from BT, as they claim the current structure does not create the right incentives for Openreach to improve its poor record on repairs and line installations.

Vaizey disagrees: “If broadband is so terrible, why are we the leading ecommerce nation in the world?” he said.

A few weeks ago Sky’s Chief Strategy Officer Mai Fyfield argued Openreach is not spending enough on broadband. BT’s Group Director of Strategy and Policy, Sean Williams, has been quick to rebuff Sky’s remarks as “plain untrue“.