MP’s have today accused BT of under-investing in its network infrastructure arm Openreach and says that the telecom giant must “put its house in order” or face structural separation.
Lawmakers added that the firm could be pumping hundreds of millions of pounds more into the vital infrastructure.
BT rejected that allegation, but agreed that customer service needed improving. A spokesperson from BT said, “Openreach investment is 30% higher than it was two years ago and it will grow again this year. Separating Openreach from BT would lead to less investment, not more.”
Calls are coming for BT to pump significantly more money into Openreach.
BT said it was “disappointed to be criticised for having invested more than £1bn a year in infrastructure when the UK was emerging from recession and rival companies invested little”.
BT has committed to invest a further six billion pounds over the next three years.
The MPs said they supported the idea of splitting Openreach from BT, if it failed to “offer the reforms and investment assurances necessary to satisfy our concerns”.
Mark Collins, director strategy and policy at rival CityFibre said, “We welcome this morning’s report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Exposing BT’s underinvestment in UK digital infrastructure is long overdue. CityFibre has campaigned the need of sustainable competition to Openreach and significant further investment in fibre infrastructure. As this report highlights, Openreach’s legacy networks are not able to meet the requirements and demands of businesses, local government and consumers. Competitive investment in fit-for-purpose fibre infrastructure is now critical, and this need must be recognised and supported by both the Government and Ofcom.
“Ofcom’s historical desire to regulate to lowest prices and devalue infrastructure investments must be curtailed. We need a regulatory and policy environment that underpins the building of new digital networks across the UK. A restructured Openreach will continue to have an important role to play in the future, but it cannot, and should not, anchor the entire UK broadband infrastructure alone – its poor performance is testament to this. Today’s report recognises the need to foster a competitive environment where the role of alternative network providers are encouraged and supported to ensure the UK’s digital infrastructure is capable of meeting current and future demands.”