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Openreach independence ’well-established’, but no room for complacency

Published: 27 June 2023
Last updated: 27 June 2023

Ofcom has today published its latest monitoring report on Openreach’s independence.

Since Openreach’s independence was established in 2018 – which saw it become a distinct company with its own staff, management, purpose and strategy within BT Group – we have been closely monitoring its compliance within this framework.

Our latest report finds that these arrangements are generally well-established and well-embedded across BT and Openreach.

However, there have been examples where changes in staff and the introduction of new systems have led to occasional issues arising. While these have been swiftly addressed, it is important that BT and Openreach take all necessary steps to ensure complacency does not set in.

Today’s report also sets out our view on whether actions or decisions by Openreach have risked distorting competition and harming the market.

BT’s wider competition-related obligations are dependent on compliant behaviour being driven by example from the very top. The comments of BT’s Chief Executive, Philip Jansen, in February of this year – including being reported as saying Openreach’s fibre push will ‘end in tears’ for rivals – caused Ofcom and industry significant concern. We would be extremely concerned to see similar comments in future and will be keeping this under close review.

Ofcom also monitors Openreach’s compliance with our Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market rules, which are designed to support competition and investment in gigabit-capable networks. Under these rules, Openreach must meet specified quality-of-service performance standards, to ensure it provides an appropriate level of service to its customers.

Separately to the report, Openreach recently informed us that for the 2022/23 financial year it did not achieve some of the quality of service standards set by Ofcom. As a result, Ofcom has opened an investigation into Openreach’s performance and will publish updates in due course.

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