Recently I wrote about an investigation by Ofcom that may cause a formal split between the two companies BT and Openreach and therefore greater competition in the market.The ruling came late last week and whilst not quite to this level, there are definitely some positive outcomes which will hopefully introduce not only more competition, but a better experience for the end user. Whilst Openreach have consistently been working in the best interest of BT, it appears now they may have to consider the best interest of the consumer.The two main areas as I see it are competition, and quality of service:Ofcom have stated that BT must open up its cable network to allow other providers to use its underground cable ducts and telegraph poles. Therefore this opens the possibilities for rivals to build advanced Fibre Networks. In saying this though, BT has offered access to its network since 2010 and there has been little take-up from this. In addition, without labour intensive surveys it is difficult to find out to what extent the network is even usable, as the underground pipes are subject to flooding or becoming blocked with debris.The area that I think will be of the greatest benefit is that Openreach will be subject to tougher minimum requirements to repair faults – and whether this will change the fact that there currently no service level agreements on broadband services, it will certainly be interesting to see how it pans out. A follow on from this is that automatic compensation is to be introduced, although again I’m unsure as to when or how this will become applicable.The ruling has been greeted with mixed results with Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron stating that Ofcom had ‘bottled it,’ and TalkTalk and Sky feeling very sceptical saying that Ofcom hadn’t gone far enough. However a jump in the BT share price shows many see this as a positive step in the right direction for change. In addition, Ofcom stated that BT could be fined “hundreds of millions of pounds” if it fails to meet obligations, and then the formal split could be relooked into.
In my opinion, anything to improve the level of service received by the end user has to be seen as a positive and we will have to wait to see over the coming months what change (if any) there is.