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Fluidata Defends BT over Claims of Monopolising UK Superfast Broadband

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 (8:51 am) - Score 965

The Managing Director (MD) of UK business ISP Fluidata, Piers Daniell, has accused the Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Media, Andrew Barron, of being almost hypocritical for claiming that BT are monopolising superfast broadband. “It’s rich that a company like Virgin, who offers no wholesale access to its residential network, is making such an issue,” said Piers.

The situation stems from several comments made by Barron to a House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry into the UK’s national superfast broadband strategy earlier this week (here). Barron claimed that BT were effectively being subsidised by government policy (most of BDUK’s funding is expected to go their way) and thus “freezing out new entrants” from the market. But Daniell has a different take.

Piers Daniell, MD of Fluidata, said:

The problem with the UK and Europe is as soon as a company becomes successful, we focus on how to make them unsuccessful.

BT has had a huge problem in the past with reinventing themselves – reorganisations, unions, pension deficits, uniform delivery across the UK, and so forth. A few years ago, BT fell behind in its delivery of broadband and services. However, with the introduction of FTTC and FTTP services, it has leapfrogged the market and because of its success, the company is branded as having a monopoly.

BT will never be able to deliver the customisation, flexibility and innovation that customers want so there will always be a market for competitors. It’s rich that a company like Virgin, who offers no wholesale access to its residential network, is making such an issue. Ultimately, if you compare it to the likes of Facebook versus MySpace, the latter was hugely successful but it was actually Facebook that floated and grew to such levels.

It’s all about the quality of the technology and how it’s delivered. While BT may be at the forefront on some technologies right now, it certainly won’t be the case in the future. There are still many holes in BT’s network, and until they can deliver a solution that is 100 percent effective, they can’t be sure to remain at the forefront.”

Facebook and MySpace both operated over an open internet access infrastructure with a relatively level playing field. Some would find it difficult to extend such a comparison to the UK telecoms market, where the fundamental infrastructure is, outside of Virgin Media’s network, still largely dominated by BT.

Similarly Barron was quietly referencing the fact that BT has no real competition in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process because the rules appear to prevent smaller altnet ISPs from even getting involved, unless they join a big a complicated consortium that wouldn’t work in most areas (smaller altnets have niche deployments in different parts of the country).

On the other hand Daniell does make a number of fair point’s about Virgin Media’s specific position and this country’s sometimes negative attitude towards big and successful businesses. Whether or not this same situation applies to BT is a somewhat trickier debate.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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