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The Knives Come Out as BT Strikes Back at MPs Demanding Separation

Saturday, February 13th, 2016 (8:23 am) - Score 2,158
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Instead of going on a charm offensive BT’s CEO, Gavin Patterson, appears to have taken a more confrontational approach by privately writing to every (650) elected UK Member of Parliament and highlighting how he felt that many of their recent claims against the operator were “inaccurate and misleading“.

The reaction, which according to The Telegraph also delivers a point-by-point rebuttal of the recent “Broadbad Report” that was signed by 121 cross-party MPs, comes at a time when Ofcom are said to be “seriously” considering (here) the option of splitting BT from control of their national broadband and phone network (Openreach).

BT’s CEO, Gavin Patterson, said:

“Separation would be costly and divert time and funding away from investment in UK infrastructure, at a time when the UK is at a crucial stage of its development as a world-leading digital nation.

Surely those impatient to see yet more homes and businesses get better broadband would rather that the money, time and effort went into the next stages of Superfast broadband, and then into Ultrafast?”

In fairness the “Broadbad” report had plenty of big flaws, such as using out of date information for broadband coverage and failing to do a deeper analysis of its own claims, which is disappointing because it arguably missed a golden opportunity to highlight some very real failings and therefore risked damaging the credibility of its own message.

Never the less the report did succeed in chiming in with all those politicians and people who, in a world where broadband is increasingly being seen as a vital utility service, simply expect an awful lot better from BT and its national service / network delivery business.

Patterson’s letter also pointed to praise of its network from around the world and made specific mention of Australia, which recently highlighted Openreach as an “example to follow“. Mind you this might not have been the best country to use given that Australia’s NBN broadband network project has been historically beset by political division and its many changing choices of technology, which have caused delays and other problems. Lest we not forget that Australia itself is a continent unto itself and a generally very different place from the UK.

Apparently some MPs have been “really aggrieved” by the letter and Conservative MP Grant Shapps, who pieced together the “Broadbad” report, also chimed in to suggest that the operator had gone into “PR overdrive” and should perhaps instead spend such money on improving its service delivery.

On the one hand we can hardly blame BT for moving to defend itself against sharp criticism of its service. On the other hand biting the hands that might one day turn around and cut you into little tiny pieces could risk drawing more support towards calls for the operator’s separation.

At this stage BT perhaps reasons that Ofcom has already made up its mind on the outcome and we’ll probably find out what that is within the next few weeks. Finally, Patterson added that BT was “far from the old-fashioned, unchallenged monopoly some critics seem to suggest“.

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68 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred

    And so they should respond to a report that is 99% garbage.

    And better to write individually than a one hit press release. I’ve not see the letter but why are they biting the hand so to speak? The response is aimed at one character

  2. Avatar Chris

    Desperate BT. When it comes to manipulation of local politicians, BT’s regional “PR Overdrive” teams across the country are adept at the job. Finally, Joe public is getting a glimpse of the real roadblock to Britain’s broadbad mess. I agree with Grant Shapps, and hope Ofcom hurry up in splitting BT promptly.

    The quicker the better.

    • Grant Shapps is engaging in flagrant bandstanding. Not my words, those of other politicians. I guess he thought he’d been out of the news for too long.

      Sadly Joe Public isn’t getting a glimpse of the real roadblock. For that they’d need to look at Ofcom and the government’s taxation policies.

      Look at France – far lower SFBB coverage than here but competing FTTP networks. Where are the challenger networks in the UK? Look at Ireland – competitive FTTP from Vodafone and Eircom.

      This whole episode is a distraction from the real issues – lowering the barriers to entry, the horrendous taxation scheme on fibre, the lack of return on investment in infrastructure in the UK, and making it easier for those who want to invest to do so.

      BT aren’t the reason Virgin Media sell 360/36 in Ireland and 200/12 here. BT aren’t the reason the only competing fixed-line networks passing more than a few thousand premises are the cable company and an MDU-only operation. Ofcom forced prices low reducing incentives to invest and return on investments, not BT. Ofcom and the government ensure building new networks is complex, time consuming and expensive with the mass of red tape.

      Remove those issues and more communities and, indeed, private enterprises, can build.

      You’re actually exacerbating and obfuscating the issues by blaming BT for everything. Far too many people expect BT to do everything and complain when they don’t rather than looking at why no-one else considers it viable to build.

      Bring competition on through deregulation and taxation changes and BT will raise their game just as Eircom have in response to Vodafone, France Telecom in response to their challengers, and other incumbents. Keep expecting BT to do everything and continue with straitjacket regulation making BT the centre of the UK’s telecoms world and nothing will change.

      Best of all, this doesn’t require argument over who gets public subsidies.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      I don’t see it as desperation I see it as righting a wrong. After all MP’s can’t split out Openreach any more than Ofcom can.

      It’s not even like Shapps has a majority , 121 MP’s out of 650 and I bet it’s less than 21 now that he’s “report” has been widely debunked.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Too right Ignition, people should be turning their guns at Ofcom and asking why they have failed.

      BT are only working within the poor framework Ofcom has set in place and in terms of BDUK only doing what BDUK set out for them to do

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Chris – explain why a breakup will be of benefit.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      All very well, but there is no joined-up thinking in the UK, and never has been. What there is, is this tick-box mentality and blame culture. Play off one against another. The most important thing is not what you can achieve, but having someone to blame when you don’t get what you want. And I have to say that BT fit the needs of that mentality pretty well ideally.

      If there is an advantage to our piecemeal approach, then it’s that we spend as little money as we can get away with, take as much as we can, and get what we pay for. As true for consumers as it is for the Government and the providers. Try to change that and you might as well P into the wind. You can change the name on the can, but not the culture. Privatisation proved that. In the long term, things improve with technological progress and better management. But it’s no magic wand. No-one is prepared to wait. So the magic solution is to make change the substitute for progress. It isn’t. But who cares? A slanging match is much better entertainment. Apparently.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      In the post above I referred to “tick box mentality”, but bunker mentality would be a better description.

      The Valuation Agency which handles business rates responsibility is taxation, not investment. Ofcom is a regulator, it is not responsible for investment, that’s why we have BDUK. BDUK don’t tread on the toes of Ofcom. The Competition Competition look narrowly at competition, and nothing else. And so it goes on, with everyone in their own little parallel universe.

      And hey presto, plenty of opportunity for the politicians to get their mits in the pie; and criticise everyone for doing the job they were set up to do, and stir the mess with the biggest wooden spoon they can find. And who set it all up in the first place, why the same politicians. They, and not the public, are the only ones served by this mess. And the ones who will never sort it out. No wonder they want to keep the EU foreigners out. But so long as the suckers keeping falling for the politicians spiel.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “explain why a breakup will be of benefit.”

      You may want to take a look at Ofcom’s digital communications review discussion paper at

      http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2015/digital-communications-review-discussion/

    • Avatar FibreFred

      ^ Can you point to the bit that explains the benefits? It’s a list of options

    • Just noted that the list of options I was copy/pasted in http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2016/02/the-knives-come-out-as-bt-strikes-back-at-critics-demanding-separation.html#comment-163438 appeared to omit a rather key point from option 3:

      ‘However, the process would be challenging and it may not address some concerns relating to Openreach – such as service quality, or the timing and level of investment decisions’

      So the process would be ‘challenging’, would without question bring Openreach’s investment in ultrafast to a halt for a least a period, would chill Liberty Global’s desire to invest and and may not actually address the key concerns with Openreach.

      Sounds like a great idea.

    • Avatar fastman

      desperate — the broadbad report highlights areas his own constituency going to benefit form BDUk progamme in they bother the check their BDUK county website, you’d be surprised how many MP’s and ministers get letters from people who have never checked to see if fibre broadband was available or are with a service provider that told then it was not available even a number of people who have been mentioned in parliament or select committes !!! so don’t believe your ISP use https://www.btwholesale.com/pages/static/Community/Broadband_Community/Coverage/ADSL_Availibility_Checker.html as that will tell you whats available at your premise

  3. Avatar Patrick Cosgrove

    Mr Shapps’ report wasn’t that good, but it did bring some very helpful publicity to what is undoubtedly a continuing problem. BT’s response is predictable. The best way to find out the truth is to watch the latest DCMS select committee investigation. Click here:

    http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/677e94ae-4479-451e-b139-ee2af3dc2a2e

    • Avatar Gadget

      mays as the contributors see it as “case for the prosecution”, but lacking any visibility of a “case for the defence”.

    • I struggle to care less about BDUK now.

      It’s for the most part done and further BDUK projects will affect a fraction of the population, less than 5%. It’s a tad late to naval gaze.

      The government if they want the moon on a stick can either pay for it or throw Ofcom on the bonfire alongside business rates on fibre and try and repair the damage these have caused over the past years.

      Separating BT and Openreach will do nothing in the short or medium term to remedy any of the issues. It will have quite the opposite effect, and will not change the fact that the UK has low returns on infrastructure investment thanks to obsessive regulation geared towards controlling retail pricing.

  4. It’s fascinating how emotive this subject gets people. I’ll put a couple of my love letters below.

    I’m still yet to see anyone indicate why separation of BT will be a magic bullet leading to a broadband panacea.

    I’m sure ‘certain’ people think that the moment Openreach became independent they’d suddenly want to spend billions blowing fibre and auditing and repairing their duct network so that they may give away access to dark fibre, ducts and poles.

    Presumably alongside this would come replacing all buried cables with ducted, reinforcing poles, and clearing out all access network ducts to ensure these may be sold for nothing too.

    Openreach obviously lose out on all of the line rental revenues, and it renders GEA redundant, but no matter, I’m sure investors would be falling over themselves to put their money into such an enterprise.

    In New Zealand there were no competitors, no alternative networks, and Chorus have been funded heavily by the government.

    In the Czech Republic the Openreach equivalent was taken private rendering the shares in the previously publicly traded company worthless unless those holding them sold immediately. No need to publish results, can happily be asset stripped if the owner desires.

    —–
    But that’s why Carl was invented! As a cut-out for BT Group. Unswervingly on-message. Fortuitously plugged as a “broadband champion” by the BT flunkies embedded in the BBC, ready to launch his one-man campaign for BT to remain as one giant £50bn group.

    But here’s the real beauty – Carl has no provable links to the telco itself. That’s crucial.

    It means Carl can go above and beyond anything the company itself could ever do or say. Issuing claim after claim which more often just aren’t true.

    As well as rubbishing elected members of parliament and their publicly-funded research. While ridiculing genuine critics, and ruining the reputation of BT’s competition.

    Distinctly black forms of corporate propaganda; which in each case (follow the money) work greatly in BT’s interest.
    —–

    —–
    Sorry, denials which still don’t come across as sincere. That’s presumably why you’re making them; in the hope of allaying those suspicions.

    Could there be an arm’s length arrangement of remuneration here? One that technically allows you to say truthfully “I don’t work for BT”?

    While working as a plausibly deniable cut-out for one of BT’s many PR operations? Some working ‘off-book’ because of the controversial (“black propaganda”) nature of their work?

    We can draw a parallel here with the US Department of Defense. The DoD has employed covert operatives from huge PR outfit Hill & Knowlton, to pump out wholly untruthful military propaganda in the lead up to Operation Desert Storm; the objective to ‘sell the war’ on behalf of the Pentagon. When rumbled the Pentagon, while admitting it had employed H&L, denied any authorization of its black propaganda.

    Often the case, Astro-Turfing is done to attract the attention of the company itself. Sycophancy with a view to securing future employment in that business. We see that repeatedly in Westminster and Whitehall. Dodgy backroom deals (“gentlemen’s agreements”) between MPs and Big Business. The MPs promised seats in the future on those companies’ boards, in return for pulling levers for Big Business while in public office.

    Sorry, Carl / ignitionnet – we’re still not sold on your sincerity.

    Not least because you’ve literally spent years waving the flag for BT, while ambushing every one of its notable rivals. Not least those tiddle not-for-profit altnets, like B4RN!

    That’s why, despite your protestations to the contrary, you continue to fail the sniff test.
    —–

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I took a look at your telco-torment website. And it seems to me your have no real proposal on how to improve the UK broadband situation. Your proposal of allowing Openreach to remove copper completely when they build fibre to premises, presented as a remedy here, won’t work. There won’t be any incentive for Openreach to do widescale copper with fibre replacement even if it were allowed to do so.

      As regards your question of whether a separation of Openreach from BT would change anything: You may want to take a took at Ofcom’s own strategic review, as posted here:

      http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2015/digital-communications-review-discussion/

      In it, it lists 4 possible options:

      1) Retaining the current model
      2) Strengthening the current model by applying new rules to BT
      3) Separating Openreach from BT
      4) Deregulating and promoting competition between networks

      On Option 3, Ofcom explains why it wants to take a look at it (whether it follows through on it or not, is another question):

      “Separating Openreach from BT could deliver competition or wider benefits for end users. It would remove BT’s underlying incentive to discriminate against competitors. Separation could also offer ways to simplify existing regulation.”

      I might also add that under new possible EU state aid regulations, future BDUK-style contracts could change. E.g. it could allow government (public) / private company partnerships, quite different from the previous gap-funding model.

      Also, IMHO an independent Openreach might be forced to act more like a business, having lost its spoiled position of a nurtured BT division. The remainder BT would be less restricted by regulations, it could even choose different network providers in some areas, again forcing Openreach to do more to keep its main customers. As it stands at the moment, BT, especially its customer-facing parts in conjunction with Openreach, is one of the worst rated companies in the UK on most public review sites (I know this has stirred up many emotions amongst the BT fans!).

      Whatever the outcome, Ofcom will face a difficult situation! Ofcom has not managed to create real market competition beyond companies merely re-using Openreach’s infrastructures, like Sky or TalkTalk. There is hardly any infrastructure competition, hardly any new access network builds, except for Virgin Media. Another question is: Do we really need multiple parallel last-mile access networks? Or won’t it be better to do it only once, but to do right? Can we really afford not to build a fibre network?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “And it seems to me your have no real proposal on how to improve the UK broadband situation.”

      It seems to me you’ve not read his site at all or his comments. And you keep referring to what Ofcom think about splitting up BT. If Ofcom reach had done their job right we’d have proper competition.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @GN – how would a separated Openreach create real market competition?

      We have it in VM areas, as BDUK nears completion how much opportunity is there for others to install to properties?

    • ‘There won’t be any incentive for Openreach to do widescale copper with fibre replacement even if it were allowed to do so.’

      You don’t think being able to close the vast majority of exchanges, along with all associated running costs, remove the majority of access network maintenance costs, reduce the need for truck rolls extensively as FTTP has 10-30% the truck roll rate of copper, and retire LLU and associated costs in many exchanges, replacing it with pure bitstream services isn’t an incentive?

      The idea that Openreach wouldn’t do this in at least urban and suburban areas if it were permitted is crazy. As regulation stands today there is exactly zero prospect of this happening any time soon and hence Openreach aren’t even entertaining the prospect.

      The idea that separation will make Openreach act more like a business makes exactly zero sense. They in theory lose their anchor tenant in BT Wholesale but that’s about it. Of course in reality they don’t as it would be far too expensive for BT Wholesale to pursue alternate network provision any time soon. Openreach don’t have to compete for business as there’s no-one building wholesaled networks for them to compete with.

      The comment about BT’s retail operations makes zero sense either. Whether they have Openreach as part of the group or not they’re still going to be the ‘phone company’ and still win custom through pure brand recognition. They don’t have to be ‘good’ they just have to be BT.

      The arguments about BT Retail aren’t an argument for separating Openreach, they’re an argument for following the example of Japan and separating the retail business from the rest of the telco.

      Incidentally I couldn’t care less about BT’s retail operation’s reviews, or their business arm. They are quite irrelevant. If other BT Wholesale customers are turning in superior reviews that points to issues with BT Retail, not Openreach. Likewise if other CPs that use Openreach directly are turning in superior reviews that points to issues with BT Wholesale, not Openreach.

      If Openreach are so poor isn’t this a great argument for the thought that there is a niche for the competition to come in, do it better, and profit?

      I’d suggest many of these issues are because of the structural separation between Openreach and the rest of BT Group, along with the various processes that have to be carried out to ensure equivalence. This wouldn’t change with a separation, there would still be the same unified infrastructure and equivalence platform.

      The only thing that will resolve the issues you and, apparently, Ofcom think will be fixed by separation is infrastructure competition. Regulation was great when it was all copper networks, infrastructure competition is what’s powered the charge to FTTP. We have little because Ofcom are years behind and continue to meddle to try and justify their own existence rather than carrying out option 4 and letting the market rip.

      There are some huge names wanting to open their wallets and invest in the UK. Let’s welcome them, sit back, and enjoy the results for everyone.

    • ‘I might also add that under new possible EU state aid regulations, future BDUK-style contracts could change. E.g. it could allow government (public) / private company partnerships, quite different from the previous gap-funding model.’

      Under current state aid regulations there’s room for privatised utilities to work with other companies to deliver FTTP.

      https://www.esb.ie/main/press/pressreleaseWS.jsp?id=4074

      Look at Ireland. Gigabit from Vodafone/ESB to 500k premises across 50 towns in the first phase, so not exactly concentrated in the cities, with more to come in subsequent phases. Gigabit from Magnet. 320Mb from UPC.

      Of course also 100Mb from the incumbent, Eircom, via VDSL with a gigabit rollout underway including overbuilding some of their existing VDSL… in response to competition.

      Strangely enough didn’t need separation of Eircom’s infrastructure arm or a ton of government money to make this happen.

      I personally prefer this model to funding private companies via gap-funding or anything else. YMMV.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: “The only thing that will resolve the issues you and, apparently, Ofcom think will be fixed by separation is infrastructure competition.”

      I said that Ofcom would consider option 3, but that it is by no means certain whether they would actually follow through on this. We’ll jusy have to wait and see.

      It looks like you favour option 4, which may or may not work. Notice what Ofcom said on this:

      “allow them to provide phone and broadband services without using BT’s network at all. This kind of ‘end to end’ competition, which sometimes involves running fibre lines directly to premises, can help incentivise Openreach to improve its infrastructure. However, it could also lead to duplication of networks and weak competition.”

      Just curious: Who would start building new infrastructures on a large scale (other than Virgin Media)? You said there are some huge names wanting to open their wallets and invest in the UK. Who are they? Why would they want to compete with Openreach, with its cheap VDSL offers?

    • Lastly:

      ‘Can we really afford not to build a fibre network?’

      Longer term, no, which is why one is being built. Neither you or I may like the pace at which it’s being built but it’s happening.

      Openreach are the most direct people to be looked at on this one however what about Virgin Media? They aren’t overbuilding their FTTN with FTTP in one hit, instead gradually moving fibre closer to homes. Why not do it in one go?

      If a whole new network were built there is no reason not to build FTTP from scratch. Existing networks it makes far more sense on many levels to upgrade incrementally as required.

      I refer repeatedly in the blog to just-in-time CapEx. That’s what BT are doing. It’s what Virgin Media and the rest of the Liberty Global family are doing.

      You may not consider the incremental upgrades to be good enough, sadly the huge gulf, demonstrated well on Think Broadband, between what’s available and what people are actually buying tells a story.

      My own constituency’s highest speed test figure has been 33.9Mb. If everybody purchased the fastest service available to them that’d be as much as 152Mb. Less than 10% of VM customers purchase the highest tier. The majority of VDSL customers take 40Mb. The majority of Openreach FTTP customers are on 40Mb. Most of Hyperoptic’s customers aren’t on their 1Gb package.

      It’s built, people aren’t coming. Why build more and put an even larger gulf between what’s there and what people are prepared to pay for?

    • ‘Who would start building new infrastructures on a large scale (other than Virgin Media)? You said there are some huge names wanting to open their wallets and invest in the UK. Who are they? Why would they want to compete with Openreach, with its cheap VDSL offers?’

      I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you, if the people who told me didn’t kill me first.

      You obviously don’t have to believe me but I wouldn’t have mentioned it if it weren’t true.

      They would want to compete with Openreach for a couple of reasons, a big one being that if the environment were correct they could get a fair amount of custom while Openreach ramp up their ultrafast offerings. Construction techniques continue to improve and, for difficult to reach areas, 4G is getting competitive with high-end DOCSIS 3.

      https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/modems/x16

      Alternative challengers are more agile as they don’t have the mass of regulation and, most importantly, they can keep the networks they build to themselves as fully vertically integrated operations with no worries about losing existing revenues on legacy operations.

      Deregulate, provide a decent environment, and they will come.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: “Alternative challengers are more agile as they don’t have the mass of regulation and, most importantly, they can keep the networks they build to themselves as fully vertically integrated operations”

      What exactly has prevented alternative providers to build their own fibre networks? They’d already been able to keep their networks as fully vertically operations, if only they had built them.

    • Red tape around street works making it excruciating to try and build new access networks, business rates on fibre making it hard to make the sums add up without economies of scale, ability to use Openreach’s network on the cheap and simultaneously whine about how lousy and overpriced it is to the ever-meddling regulator deterring those with an LLU presence from risking their own capital.

  5. Avatar gerarda

    I presume Gavin Patterson is a bit peeved that no-one told Sharon White that it was custom and practice that Ofcom was required to get prior approval of all telecom related matters from BT.

  6. Avatar Andrew

    I struggle to understand how anything gets done by BT at all.
    Just moving a local business to a new location and once again Openreach cocked it up.
    This has happened for every single customer move I’ve done.
    I can’t think of one single time in 15 years when it went smoothly.

    • Avatar fastman

      so Andrew have you seen what the sevice proveider actually provided openreach as openreach will have only done what the service provider asked for — or have you only go the bit that you ask the service provider to do

      so how many have you done compared to the workstack on a daily basis within openreach

    • Avatar Noel

      Agreed Andrew. Exactly the same experience here. I think people must just soldier on through the disasters and assume it’s ‘normal’.

    • Or Noel these experiences are in the minority, as as a general rule people only comment when things go wrong, not when they are as they should be.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @Ignition: “these experiences are in the minority, as as a general rule people only comment when things go wrong”

      I am afraid that’s not the case. See for example AAISP on Trustpilot which is has a good rating. Some ISPs are simply better at putting more pressure on Openreach and shielding the customer from too many experiences, though it costs more.

    • I’m afraid it is quite self-evidently the case.

      If it were not the various ISP forums would be full of comments from those many customers that are perfectly satisfied with their service, hence are still paying for it.

      An exception, and A&A are an exception in the market in many ways, doesn’t disprove the general rule.

      A&A’s customer base is exceptional, their pricing is exceptional, their customer service is exceptional. Most customers of mass-market ISPs have other priorities than going to Trustpilot to say that their Netflix / Youtube connection is working okay.

      But I’m sure you were perfectly aware of this anyway.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      He was, just more trolling

  7. Avatar fastman

    Gnewton — Why would they want to compete with Openreach, with its cheap VDSL offers? -so you cant have it both ways too cheap — !!!!! which is what the market (the real market out there in the real world ) is being driven at — which is Cheap broadband and some would love VDSL to be even cheaper

    • I can assure you that the major competition as far as infrastructure goes aren’t overjoyed by cheap broadband either. Those who actually pay for the infrastructure I’m sure would love to get better, or any, returns.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      OK, let’s put it bluntly: Ofcom have screwed the industry to please the politicians. And are now trying to dig themselves out of the resulting hole, with the usual problem. BT’s fury is that they are the scapegoat. But frankly, what did they expect?

      I fear more proof of the old adage about Government/Regulation “if you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solution(s)”.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Jesus how far does this copper cabal reach?

      Are there no borders when it comes to sweating copper assets and bringing slightly faster speeds to the few

  8. Avatar Kevinp

    Wow what an absolute f*k up the NBN has been in Australia.

    • Avatar Bob2002

      Was it a f*k up because it was a bad idea, or because it became a political football?

    • Avatar Kevinp

      Definitely because of the political football it has become.
      Such a mess now, shame it could have been a very wonderful thing for Australia.

  9. Avatar dragoneast

    Well I suppose if you advertise you can have whatever you want, some (usually Anglo-Saxon) fool will believe them.

  10. Avatar themanstan

    There are no benefits to separating Openreach so late in the process.
    UKgov, OFCOM and politicians are trying to pin the blame on the Donkey…

    There had been consideration for BT to be allowed to release BT in 98 from the conveying aspect of fibre and that restrictions on competition be lifted against cable companies be completely lifted in 2002… but again BT had to ask for permission in 2005. So inaction/poor regulation/taxation by OFCOM and UKgov is really what has been slowing UK fibre infrastructure. They couldn´t even act on their own recommendations…

    http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199697/cmselect/cmtrdind/254iii/ti0307.htm

  11. Avatar dragoneast

    Does anyone apart from me find it ironic that what killed off traditional British industry: the dead hand of political interference, over-regulation, lack of any incentive for investment, and the over-arching worship of cheap as the quick route to political popularity, is killing off the new technologies too? Last time we were rescued by the foreigners, so now we spurn them too.

  12. Avatar colin

    I still believe that BT should sell off Retail and combine with Plusnet into a new non BT ISP.That would remove any conflict of interest.
    Don’t split the technical end of Bt but remove the ISP.

  13. Avatar fastman

    there is no conflit of interest but an operator needs an anchor tenant who will but its prodcuts 1!!! — otherwise you end up with what happended In digital region all network and no product !!!!! and then nothing !!! and massive waste of in this case public money and share holder money (if private)

  14. Avatar chris conder

    To split or not to split? I don’t think its even worth the discussion, because openreach have a whole legal department that will drag it out at great expense for years. Long enough for the mothership to buy up the mobiles and the football and lots of other stuff that the ageing infrastructure can’t support, and then they will literally hand openreach over to ofcom as a gift and tell them to sort it out. Just give it time. You can see the writing on the wall. A shift into content and mobile. And then the taxpayers will have to pay yet again to put the fibre in properly.
    I agree with the previous commenters who have said lets get some competition going and let the market sort it out, and stop the inept government and feckless regulators meddling.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      That is what is missing Chris, true competition and the lack of that is down to Ofcom.

      BT can’t create competitors.

      Crippling regulation + race to the bottom pricing = Disaster

    • Avatar TheFacts

      How do you propose to get some competition going?

    • Removing business rates on fibre and removing some of the ridiculous red tape around street works would be a good start.

      Hyperoptic rent fibre from a building to the exchange and back to a building across the road because it’s cheaper than building out and paying the business rates on their own fibre.

      Absurd.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      Sadly I think there are just too many vested interests, both within Government and elsewhere to make that practical. Do you think the Treasury would ever allow the de-rating of fibre: they much prefer selective grants which they can control. Amend the Telecommunications Code: do you know how many decades that takes? Have to get the utilities to work together: they don’t and won’t, that’s not why they were privatised for. And if it affects private property then God help you, the landowners won’t: after all their surveyors, lawyers and accountants are all working hard to make it as difficult as possible – more fees, more delay.

      Much easier to fob off the plebs up with competition at the retail level: never mind the quality, feel the width. They won’t know the difference, after all. What do you mean they’re in revolt? Bung a few bob BTs way to keep ’em quiet. Not working? What can we do to shut them up? Ah yes, send BT the bogeyman off to the Competition Commission. Another one sorted into the out tray. Next? Probably make ’em a offer they can’t refuse and give ’em a referendum. Holiday brochures everybody?

    • I live in hope that Ofcom will pleasantly surprise but chances are they’ll just carry on playing politics to justify their own bloated existence.

      Tinkering around the edges and micro-managing are a great way to try and justify the budget.

  15. Avatar dragoneast

    Yep, my fear is we get crippling regulation AND big price rises.

  16. Avatar Macchap

    @ Mark
    Sorry to be an arse but please can you stop writing “never the less” / “in fairness” / “on the one hand” etc in your reports?
    It’s annoyingly colloquial in otherwise informative writing.

  17. Avatar Al

    Might not some of the complaints about the fibre rollout reduce as it finally gets around to those underinvested areas which haven’t seen a speed increase in around a decade. They should have targeted the slower areas as part of the BDUK project first before moving onto those areas with speeds above 10Mbps. Sure this would have meant that in the early stages the coverage figures wouldn’t have looked good. So the politicans wouldn’t be able to boost how well the rollout is going.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Hard to say whether you’d get fewer complaints, as you’d have 4x as many ready to complain.

      It is something of a myth that all the slower areas have been ignored, and only faster ones upgraded.

      Sub-2Mbps connections have changed from 14% in 2011, to 10% in 2012, to 8% in 2013.

      Ofcom then figured that most of the 8% could upgrade to an NGA network if they wanted to, and only 3% of connections got less than 2Mbps without the option to upgrade.

      In 2014, Ofcom then based the calculation on premises, not connections, and worked it out to be 3% of premises that could not get better than 2Mbps.

      In 2015, this dropped to 2%. Right now, Thinkbroadband calculate it to be 0.8%.

      That progression isn’t directly comparable all the way through but there is no doubt that there has been a steady progression in both commercial and BDUK roll outs. It isn’t possible to say that the BDUK rollout has concentrated exclusively on fast areas, or avoided slow areas. They’ve covered both fast & slow.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      It is a myth indeed I went from 2Mbps to over 50

  18. Avatar Reg Morris

    I was shocked to see CEO Mr Gavin Patterson come out and defend the record of Open Reach I for one want more accountability and other providers being able to investigate faults and fraud from inside the industry. It is bad for democracy we are going down a road of censorship with BT group. The telephone exchanges been crown buildings were no body other than BT staff can enter is the start of all the secrecy involved about complaints they all join forces to prevent a claim. i have suffered silent treatment on two business lines for years.It was only when i joined Talk Talk their was problem three different engineers to connect my old line to broadband and a 7 month wait. Reason after 6 months no claim can be entertained by BT for previous criminal faults which left a very hard to prove until i joined Talk Talk with a second line. If you have one line you will never prove wrongdoing When it was finally connected I received 14.76 Mb but on my other line along side Bt business it which i have never made an income for over 5 years it was 2.7Mb yet 30 yards away by uswitch speed test 12.0 Mb freely available. i told BT my plight and the girl said nothing i could do until i called an engineer in Blackburn named Mike a real gent who said we would correct it next week I had a call from BT engineer to say he was working on my broadband at 9.00am so i took a broadband speed test on my bt business line it was 2.7 Mb at 9.15am at 4.00pm the engineer called and said try it now i did the same broadband speed test by uswitch it was 15.1Mb yet for 3 years i only had 2.8Mb with not one penny of compensation paid out for al the problems faults including call drop outs answer machine messages 1571 6-10 days late no dialing tone burnt out phones etc.Before 121 cross party MP’s be taken in by Mr Gavin Patterson’s plea I would plead with him to settle an outstanding claim for negligence which has destroyed my faith in the BT group as Open reach engineers are above the law
    here in Neston. I want Ofcom not to be subcidised by the telecommunications industry. I want this industry funded by the government this cosy cartel needs more power given to to stop the threat of more cyber and telephonic crime.I also want Ofcom to have its own set of independent engineers and all the other providers engineers to be able to go in to the telephone exchanges who have not moved from the GPO setup in victorian times.We are in the 21st century to have this system is not being honest with democracy. Remember USA caught the bankers the libor scandal and others we are so far behind in security or other wise they turned a blind eye.I note police have very few CPS prosecutions no wonder with the present set up were nothing can be proved easily but with the two business lines i had i knew when BT had to apologise to Talk Talk saying a faulty line yet broke the data protection act in not informing myself the victim of a massive fraud. Please Mr Gavin Patterson CEO come clean and at least pay an interim payment without me going to Ofcom or the courts for a blue chip company to act in the manner to myself and family very shoddy service.MP’s don’t be taken in by BT group who have run a two tier service for years. The telecommunications industry has been hijacked by Open Reach engineers who checks the laptops in their vans because no safeguards are in place to protect the ordinary citizen Ofcom are so out of touch with their present system which favors providers. The telephone and internet are designed for everybody to enjoy not the elite who now have controlled it stating national security yes i am for national security but to place you out of business no. I want Rt Hon Mr Grant Shaps MP to look at Open Reach’s case on merit and if MP’s can be a given a choice the break up must happen as we have been badly let down by those you thought you could trust. You would not believe we are in 2016 we also need trust laws implemented as in USA to protect everybody not the elite and powerful who have an uninterrupted service

    • Avatar Gadget

      Reg, if you are saying that only BT people can enter exchanges that is not true, ISPs (like Talktalk for example) with equipment in the exchange have access.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Massive fraud ?

      Clearly you are rightly upset but your post sounds exaggerated

  19. Avatar Reg Morris

    I must reply to a previous entry who said Talk Talk may enter telephone exchanges yes that might be true for ISP’s but nowhere near the BT setup. The informant may be he knew that any other providers can’t check lines to the local exchange. He can only work up to the telephone socket as that is Open reach’s domain.We would be laughed at in USA because security is paramount quite right too they spent the right money. What do we have we have designed a system on the very cheap when there’s any problems BT when they can’t fix it they alway’s blame your equipment so they can send an engineer out for more money, but they never admit with a claim form submitted stating it was there fault only the elite have the privilidge we are left in the cold.My case is very long one which BT personal have made my life not really what it should be.How can they wind you up with that crazy music can’t they become more user friendly please start with the music.20 minutes of that is eneogh they are out of touch with reality. Mr Gavin Patterson CEO and all the personal the chairman’s office maybe in fairness not Mr Gavin Patterson CEO seconded who have been involved but not one claim form submitted. I had a lot of dealing With Mr Bruce Carter business chairman who left very quickly and the latest person Mr Mark P Davies. It took me 6 months to track this man down for compensation he was like the rest these red tape rules set up by Ofcom and BT don’t help the victim. He was a given the statement which i was prepared for the police what do you think what happened when it got too hot he was suddenly moved to retail he then passed me back to sme scotland. The PR is at an all time low no matter who you go to in providers just take another complaint from my sister 0.6Mb with 3 providers now it has moved to 8.0Mb with sky. The police who said after 3 enquiries that what i experienced was poor service in a letter handed to me by the constable which was written by his inspector after 6 months.In my opinion all this was criminal action inflicted to cause maximum distress and financial ruin.In a small town anything can happen without any checks because everybody is too friendly and each other protects each other the natural thing to do nobody wants to lose their job.Why don’t BT have independent engineers from a special unit to investigate no they use the same personal that have caused the problems all on the cheap. On Tuesday 2nd of May i come off holiday and my broad band would not work so i called plusnet i told them about the problem. then the line went dead because i had another line with BT Business with the same package i was able to work and call plusnet this was the day everyone had trouble in the network. Yet my other line never suffered along side. I plead is there anybody who can tell me or help me to restore an interrupted service. This censorship via the silent treatment must not go on can’t anybody run a business in the uk now without somebody or group interfering to my lines (leads).Funny that week i was away on holiday my pal had no phone service until i rang on 3rd february plusnet this loss of service was for 4 days as he is elderly and couldn’t ring out i call him on a daily basis. If any MP’s fall for Mr Gavin Patterson CEO BT group patter for more time say no just break up the monopoly which will give us back our freedom and independence. I await Mr Gavin Patterson CEO BT group to investigate further and at least acknowledge an interim payment for some serious compensation.I am 69 years old and need to retire i have lost £1000’s over the years all because of jealousy I was placed in this situation.I reported the problems yet still the same treatment daily on 2 lines plus mobile. An unemployed person would have more incoming calls coming in. It looks like a computer has been used on both incoming lines because if a call comes in it drops out and when i press 1471 on 99.9% of calls apart from friends and family and some well known clients, rest unobtainable. Could The Prime Minister Rt Hon Mr David Cameron MP intervene and tell the truth to the 121 cross party MP’s who want the break up plus all the providers in the industry who never had a look in with the contract for super fibre high speed broadband. Please take me out of deadlock and sort out the problems experienced. Many thanks for allowing my point of view my trust is at an all time low with Open Reach

    • Avatar Gadget

      Reg, if you are saying you were told that your CP could not test the physical line at all, then your informant appears to be mistaken as CPs are able to test their own lines via a Dialogue Service, service diagnostics along with address matching and line characteristics.

  20. Avatar Shane

    If Open reach were independent and customer facing. BT would be gone within 5 years!

    Most of the issues I’ve known about with BT are the fact they don’t send the correct message to Open Reach or they don’t understand their own systems.

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