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Arden’s response to Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications

Arden’s Operations Director responds to the announcement made this week by Ofcom

What could have been the most important shakeup of the Uk’s communications industry for a decade, has ended as something wholly uninspiring. After 12 months of debate and deliberation, Ofcom has announced that it was not going to make radical amends to the UK’s infrastructure landscape. These changes would have addressed complaints about the increasing digital divide, woeful customer service and stifled innovation and are effectively going to maintain the status quo.

Many in the industry have argued that Openreach (which provides the physical infrastructure connecting most homes and businesses) should be fully separated from the BT Group and run as an independent company. This should (it is argued) create a more competitive environment where Openreach is not simply a profit engine for BT, unfortunately Ofcom have decided that the disruption caused by fully separating Openreach would cost more than the potential benefits.

Ofcom has gone for a compromise that sees BT getting to keep Openreach but only if it complies with a new group of targets envisaged to make the current setup perform better. Openreach must now be run more independently with more strategy and budget autonomy, it has also imposed rules designed to improve Openreach’s repair and install services and is fully committed to re-visiting the idea of a break-up if Openreach fail to improve.

We are understandably disappointed by the Ofcom half measures which continues to leave one of the most fundamental elements of the industry in limbo.

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