In 2006 Ofcom's Telecommunications Strategic Review led to the semi-split of BT's broadband, phone and TV supply divisions from the arm of its business which runs all the cable connections into homes in Britain leading to the creation of a new BT subsidiary: Openreach.
Now Ofcom is conducting another Strategic Review and the future of Openreach is up for debate again. One of the options on the plate is to completely split Openreach into a fully independent company rather than a subsidiary of BT, the main rationales being that:
- the current system gives BT an unfair advantage over their rivals who pay to use their cables
- the alternative would be complete deregulation which would see a lot of duplication with roads ripped up as Virgin and Sky lay their own cables where BT already have cables
- there have been criticisms that BT have under invested in upgrading Britain's fibre optic infrastructure
I propose that Openreach should become entirely independent and that Government should nationalise it. The Government would then be able to coordinate a rapid roll-out of 1,000 MB per second fibre optic connections to the doorstep of every home in the country. This would put the UK at the forefront of the world's broadband speeds, hugely advantaging our businesses and encouraging inward investment. The Government would then be reimbursed over time from the profits made by Openreach from selling access to the network (as Openreach currently does) to TalkTalk, Sky, BT, Virgin and other broadband suppliers, not to mention the higher revenue accrued from business rates, corporation tax, NI contributions, income tax and VAT from businesses being more successful, new ones starting up or moving here from overseas.
Consumers will benefit from better broadband speeds probably at lower prices thanks to a fairer playing field with lower entry costs for new suppliers.