THE BLOG
11/29/2016 10:55 am ET Updated Nov 29, 2017

About time to move on from UK telecoms monopoly

The separation of national infrastructure between companies that provide the assets and the maintenance of those assets has long been a separation in other industries such as Energy, Gas, Water and Transport Airports that use subcontractors to heavily support the complex and expanding land and day to day operations. The Issue with BT ownership of its Openreach subsidiary that owns the pipes and telephone cables that connect nearly all businesses and homes in the United Kingdom to the national broadband and telephone network has long been an issue for its competitors TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone who have to use this network. The BT Group argue they are investing in this critical national infrastructure that will power the Digital economy for all industries yet questions over how to build this faster and with more coverage in the national has been a constant battle with the idea that the Internet of Things and super fast broadband towards 5G and other types of networks may be better delivered and served with having multiple large scale companies in a more devolved network. This requires huge investment to build fiber networks but also a wiliness to experiment and develop a full range of services that digitize and enable multiple networks and providers to give not just access but also high performing data and network speeds.

Separating the BT and Openreach monopoly will in my view help this move towards a faster network of providers that is not driven at the speed of one large operator priorities. This has counter arguments of reliability and avoiding vested interests in zoning in on specific cities and regions for preference treatment. But with ofcom and government leadership now so critical is the Brexit era we now find ourselves in, we need to think faster and more nationally and internationally in how we connect to the wider world. The telecoms network has to be the network of the future and this needs big investment from many parties not just the preserve of one.