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The Openreach Monitoring Unit


Background

In March 2017, BT notified Ofcom of its voluntary commitments to further reform Openreach, making it a distinct company with its own staff, management, purpose and strategy. We set out our view that the new arrangements sufficiently address Ofcom’s competition concerns as set out in our Strategic Review of Digital Communications (PDF, 1.1 MB) subject to BT and Openreach’s continued commitment to the new arrangement.

Ofcom published a statement in July 2017 confirming our decision to release BT from its existing undertakings (PDF, 958.4 KB) once the 2017 Commitments were in place.

Ofcom originally established the Openreach Monitoring Unit (OMU) to monitor Openreach and BT’s compliance with the Commitments. The OMU has published annual reports setting out the findings from its monitoring work, more information on which can be found at the bottom of this page.

Separately from the 2017 Commitments, in March 2021 Ofcom published the Wholesale Telecoms Fixed Market Review (WFTMR). The WFTMR put in place new rules around the regulation of the fixed telecoms markets that underpin broadband, mobile and business connections, for the period from April 2021 to March 2026. These rules are designed to promote competition and investment in gigabit-capable networks – bringing faster, better broadband to people across the UK. The framework set out in the WFTMR aims to incentivise all network builders, including Openreach, to roll out new networks.

The work of the Openreach Monitoring Unit

Ongoing oversight of the Commitments will continue to remain at the core of what the OMU does, as it remains vital that Openreach and BT continue to operate in a way that is strategically independent from each other. Stakeholders should therefore continue to contact the OMU where they have concerns about compliance with the Commitments.

As announced in our December 2021 annual monitoring report (PDF, 402.8 KB), the scope of the OMU’s work now includes issues relating to the WFTMR framework. While the Commitments and the WTFMR establish distinct frameworks, both form part of Ofcom’s broader strategy to deliver better broadband to homes and businesses across the UK. In order to support our monitoring, we encourage our stakeholders to contact us where they are concerned that there are issues that might act as obstacles to the development of competition in gigabit-capable networks in line with the strategy set out in the WFTMR.

Interaction with other Ofcom functions

The work undertaken by the OMU is distinct from Ofcom’s other regulatory activities relating to BT and Openreach. Ofcom will continue to carry out policy and enforcement activities in accordance with the relevant legislative requirements and any published procedures.

The OMU will not get involved in individual issues arising between consumers and BT or Openreach. And while we are keen to hear from stakeholders, the OMU will not necessarily resolve individual issues between companies and BT or Openreach. Regulatory disputes between parties should be brought to Ofcom where appropriate under the existing process (PDF, 276.7 KB).

How do I get in touch with the OMU?

If stakeholders have concerns about specific aspects of the service they have been provided with, they should continue to contact BT or Openreach in the first instance. However, we would be keen to hear from stakeholders if they have comments about Openreach’s compliance with the Commitments or issues related to the WTFMR framework, as outlined above.

If you want to get in touch with the OMU, please email OMU@ofcom.org.uk.

OMU reports

Set out below is a summary of the work of the OMU to date, including information relating to previous reports that have been published by the OMU.

In June 2018 we published our Implementation Report (PDF, 349.2 KB), which outlined the key steps taken by BT and Openreach to implement the new arrangements, alongside our observations and external stakeholder feedback. We found that material progress had been made, particularly on culture and senior leadership . However, we considered there was more to do to fully realise the vision of independence and to achieve better service for consumers.

We published our interim monitoring report in November 2018 (PDF, 948.1 KB), which provided an update on further developments since our June 2018 report, and how the new arrangements between BT and Openreach were working in practice. We remained broadly satisfied with progress, although we recognised that the changes would need some time to fully bed in and that continued commitment from Openreach and BT was crucial to ensure the new arrangements were a success.

In July 2019, we published our Annual Monitoring Report (PDF, 570.9 KB), which explored how the new arrangements between BT and Openreach were working in practice. We found that real progress had been made implementing the new arrangements, but there was more to be done.

In November 2020, deferred by a few months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we published our Annual Monitoring Report (PDF, 466.6 KB) for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020. We found that, overall, BT and Openreach continued to make good progress in strengthening and safeguarding Openreach’s strategic independence. But, as the report set out, we found that continued focus and vigilance was necessary to ensure progress continued, and was fully embedded and sustainable.

In December 2021 we published our annual monitoring report (PDF, 402.8 KB) and found that Openreach has continued to operate in a way that is strategically and operationally independent from BT, as envisioned by the Commitments. We also announced that we have expanded the scope of the OMU to include issues relating to the WFTMR framework.

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