It was a marriage that provoked a lot of strong feelings – most of it negative. But BT and Openreach are finally bowing to pressure and are splitting up. But, like many separations, there are still some issues that will hang over both parties for the foreseeable future while things are ironed out and agreed.
Openreach, is part of BT and the problem lies in the fact that Openreach is responsible for all the infrastructure needed for broadband – so that’s all the fibre, the ducts, the pipes and all the other gubbins needed to bring the internet into your home. While that’s great news for BT, rival providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone (who have to use Openreach’s network), may not have been served as equally.
BT’s competitors have long complained that the relationship between BT and Openreach put the rest of them at a distinct disadvantage, with Openreach providing them with poor service and consistently favouring its parent company.
The split is definitely more of a separation than a full-blown divorce and proceedings will start later this year. Openreach will be legally separated from BT and have its own management, staff and strategy. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll see the split isn’t quite clean – BT’s board of directors will still set Openreach’s annual budget and its boss will still need to report in to BT’s Chief Executive on certain matters.
However, the overall consensus is that the legal separation is a good thing and it wraps up two years’ worth of battles and will hopefully supress any further accusations of favouritism towards BT. Whether broadband and phone customers will see any difference of course, remains to be seen. But now that all the hot air has cooled down, perhaps Openreach can focus on providing everyone in the country with decent access to the internet.
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