Telephone cables inside a cabinet

Our latest report on Openreach’s independence

Published: 8 December 2021
Last updated: 17 March 2023

Ofcom has today published its annual monitoring report on the progress towards delivering a more independent Openreach.

In 2017, BT agreed to our requirements to reform Openreach and signed up to a series of Commitments. The changes meant Openreach becoming a legally separate company with its own board, staff, management and strategy, with a duty serve all its customers equally.

Since Openreach’s independence was established in 2018, we have been closely monitoring how the arrangements have been working in practice. Today’s annual report finds that, overall, Openreach continues to operate in a way that is strategically independent from BT, as envisioned by the Commitments. Strong structures and processes are now well-embedded across both organisations to support compliance, or address any issues that may arise.

Given the importance of these Commitments to the ecosystem that supports competition in the telecoms market, we expect BT and Openreach companies to remain vigilant so that they remain secure and central to their relationship in the future. We will continue to monitor developments closely.

Moving forward

Earlier this year, we set out new regulations for the wholesale telecoms markets that will help shape the UK’s full-fibre future.

Our Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review framework aims to incentivise all network builders, including Openreach, to bring faster, more reliable broadband to people across the UK. Openreach also has an important role to play in ensuring that competition operates effectively, for example by allowing other builders access to its underground ducts and telegraph poles.

Given this, we will expand our future monitoring of Openreach to include areas relating to our full-fibre regulatory framework. In order to support our monitoring, we would encourage companies to bring any competition concerns to us that might otherwise risk undermining the development, and widespread availability, of competing full-fibre networks.

As part of this year’s monitoring, some issues have already been highlighted to us. We encourage Openreach to engage with its customers on these areas of concern, and work collaboratively to overcome them. We will report on progress on these and other areas highlighted by companies in our next report.

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