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Ofcom’s Former General Counsel Jumps Ship to Cityfibre UK UPDATE

Monday, June 1st, 2020 (2:43 pm) - Score 1,504
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Urban focused UK full fibre network builder Cityfibre has managed to snatch away one of Ofcom’s top legal professionals in the shape of Polly Weitzman, the regulator’s current General Counsel with extensive experience in the field of telecoms regulation and law.

At present Cityfibre are currently involved in a £4bn private investment plan (here), which aims to deploy a 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband ISP network to cover around 1 million UK premises by the end of 2021, before potentially reaching their ambition of 8 million premises across 100+ cities and towns by the end of 2025 or later (c.30% of the UK). The operator is also busy extending their Dark Fibre network.

Suffice to say that the operator is playing in an aggressively competitive market and in that kind of climate you need every advantage you can get, particularly on the regulatory front. As such Cityfibre has managed to hire Polly and will appoint her to the position of Senior General Counsel, which is similar to the role she played at Ofcom for 15 years (i.e. providing legal advice for all policy areas within Ofcom and overseeing related litigation).

Prior to this, Polly was also Head of the EC and UK Competition Law Department at global law firm Dentons.

Greg Mesch, CEO of Cityfibre, said:

“We are thrilled that Polly will be joining CityFibre’s executive team, bringing her unparalleled expertise in the UK’s digital communications market.

Polly will join us as CityFibre passes a major inflection point in our growth, accelerating our rollouts to over 100 towns and cities and playing an important role in delivering the Government’s target of Full Fibre nationwide by 2025. At this time, Polly will prove an invaluable asset, working with us to ensure that CityFibre remains a competitive force, driving faster rollouts and improved services across the country.”

We should point out that Polly will not join Cityfibre immediately as she’ll first need to serve out a period of gardening leave from her previous position at Ofcom (i.e. usually a paid suspension from work for the duration of a notice period), which is typically intended to stop people from having any further influence or access to confidential information in their old jobs.

At the time of writing Polly is still listed as the General Counsel on Ofcom’s website and it’s not known precisely when she will take up her new position at Cityfibre or who will replace her at the regulator.

UPDATE 5:29pm

Ofcom has now put out a related update, which reveals that Polly has left Ofcom with immediate effect for a period of gardening leave before joining Cityfibre in January 2021. Martin Ballantyne, currently Legal Director at Ofcom, will step up to become interim General Counsel.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said:

“I’d like to thank Polly on behalf of all colleagues for her huge contribution to Ofcom. After 15 years with us, Polly understandably wants to explore fresh challenges. But she leaves with our warmest thanks for having led Ofcom’s legal team with distinction and for her impact on our wider work.”

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Danny says:

    City Fibre is going to be either one of two things in the future. The one I hope is that it becomes the third main provider nationwide able to take on BT and Virgin or they are going to be absorbed by either Virgin or BT much like in the past. Time will tell but I feel alot of these Alt providers are going to be bought by the big companies eventually.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I can’t see them being gobbled by BT/Openreach without a major change in the current market, although I wouldn’t completely count Virgin Media out as a potential buyer but it’s a tough sell as they have various other options (DOCSIS upgrades etc.).

      In the short to medium turn Virgin’s parent (Liberty Global) will be more focused upon potentially going wholesale (hopefully) and focusing upon areas that exist outside of their existing coverage, not within, to maximise value for them.

    2. Avatar FibreBubble says:

      CityFibre’s owners are much bigger fish than BT or Virgin.

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      CityFibre is owned by a couple of investment funds. Pretty tricky to speculate what their actual assets aee compared to Liberty Global.

      BT could do with a few billion Euro of capital for sure, though.

      I hope all do well. As does my retirement fund.

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