Joe Garner (BT): Ofcom review must reflect ‘competitive’ UK broadband market

Joe Garner, BT Openreach CEO, believes rival’s investments and market share should be taken into account by Ofcom’s major communications review

The significant investments currently being undertaken by BT’s broadband rivals are signs of a competitive market, according to Openreach CEO Joe Garner, who has urged Ofcom to take this into account while it conducts its first major review of the UK’s communications in a decade.

BT has frequently been accused by its competitors of enjoying a dominant position in the fibre space and that the playing field is not as level as it was in copper – although BT itself has campaigned against the copper “subsidies” it thinks other firms benefit from.

It claims the fact that 42 percent of all new Openreach fibre customers are signed up by the likes of Sky and TalkTalk and Virgin Media’s £3bn cable expansion, as well as fibre to the premise (FTTP) investments by the likes of CityFibre and Hyperoptic, suggest a level playing field.

“I think what we’ve seen is the steady growth of external communications providers,” said Garner (pictured). “That’s being driven by consumer demand that they’re now meeting very actively between themselves and on an absolutely equivalent basis.

“If you look at the position on copper and the differential between wholesale line rental (WLR) and local loop unbundling (LLU) there’s a price differential that was stacked in favour of LLU to encourage new entrants to the market. One argument that could be made is that on copper there was a ‘price advantage’ versus BT whereas on fibre it’s a level playing field.

“The regulator deliberately unlevelled the playing field in favour of new entrants. I would argue that on fibre, everyone was a new entrant so everyone had the opportunity to take advantage of being the first. BT took advantage of being an aggressive first mover and others are now competing.”

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Source: Techweek Europe

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