UK telcos urge reform of broadband market

The chiefs of UK mobile operators have written an open letter in the Financial Times urging a radical reform of the UK broadband market.

In the letter titled ‘Reform market to deliver fast broadband in the UK’, Vodafone, Sky and TalkTalk said that every household and business deserves fast and reliable broadband access, noting that the industry is presently letting down customers and businesses in the country.

They highlighted problems identified by UK regulator Ofcom, including the ownership of the national telecoms network by BT Openreach, which involve a conflict of interest in the role of BT, poor customer service and difficulties in enforcing the existing regulatory regime. 

The operators noted an urgent need for investment to deliver broadband coverage in hard-to-reach areas, improved service reliability and quality, as well as fibre products suitable for UK’s small businesses. 

“We do not believe the fundamental problems identified by Ofcom can be addressed by tinkering with the regulatory framework. Ofcom has done a good job of delivering competition on the old copper network, but the powers given to it are insufficient for the new superfast world,” the operators said. 

Calling for the UK regulator to ask the competition and markets authority (CMA) to undertake a full market investigation, the operators said: “Only the CMA, with the support of Ofcom, can address the structural barriers to competition that will unlock the next wave of investment in communications infrastructure that the country urgently needs. We cannot afford to wait.” 

The letter was signed by Chris Bryce, CEO of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed; Chris Pateman, CEO of the Federation of Communication Services; Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Netowrks Cooperative Association; Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors; Jeremy Darroch, CEO of Sky; Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk and Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK. 

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