Ofcom still has its eye on BT in case it gets any funny ideas

Ofcom has released its planned programme of work for 2018/19 and BT/Openreach will continue to operate under a microscope.

Talk of the BT/Openreach separation has died down over the last couple of months, perhaps because the industry got bored of discussing nothing else, but Ofcom has reminded CEO Gavin Patterson and his cronies it hasn’t forgotten about keeping tabs. Let’s hope the temptation of yesteryear isn’t creeping into the BT boardroom as pressure mounts after a pretty average 12 months.

“We will actively measure, monitor and report on progress related to the legal separation of Openreach from BT,” Ofcom has stated. “In particular, we will assess how far Openreach is improving its network and delivering better quality of service.”

After 12 months of scandals and under-whelming growth, some sceptical individuals might suggest the paper separation between the two might not be enough to ensure parity across the industry. Perhaps this is a gentle nudge, a smile and a wink from Ofcom to BT; we haven’t forgotten about this prolonged saga and we plan to keep an eye on things to make sure it’s all above board.

But before anyone accuses Ofcom of paying too much attention to the former monopoly, it has also put out a warning to the other telcos as well. The watchdog is keeping an eye on you lot as well, just to make sure you’re helping the farmers connect their cows, just as much as you’re helping hipsters in Shoreditch pay for their deconstructed coffee with their smartphone.

“As part of our work to improve mobile coverage across the country, we will ensure that operators meet their coverage obligations,” Ofcom said. “These are designed to increase the availability of mobile networks, particularly in rural and remote areas. We will also consider new coverage requirements when we award new spectrum licences.”

Mobile spectrum has of course been a hot topic of debate over the last few months, but how Ofcom manages to use the spectrum carrot to incentivise telcos to meet their coverage promises will be an interesting one. These are after all commercial organizations with an understandable commitment to deliver profitable operations, therefore some might need to be coerced into more actively supporting connectivity in the more rural and remote locations.

Perhaps this could be factored into the spectrum auctions? Placing conditions on rural connectivity on the more attractive bands would certainly make telcos take the challenge more seriously.

This is just a draft of course, plans are open for consultation over the next couple of months, before being finalised in March. If you would like to provide feedback on Ofcom’s plans, you can do so by following this link.

  • Private Networks in a 5G World

  • 5G Networking Digital Symposium

  • LIVE: Getting the Best out of 5G

  • 5G Ecosystem Digital Symposium

  • 2020 Vision Executive Summit

  • TechXLR8

  • BIG 5G Event

  • Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies

  • 5G World

  • 5G Latin America

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.