UK national telecommunications carrier BT has been forced to give up its control of Openreach, the broadband services provider, but it has been allowed to maintain ownership.
In a complicated deal reached with Ofcom, the government agency that regulates the telecoms business, BT has agreed to make Openreach a “distinct company” within its business.
Essentially this means Openreach will continue to be a business unit or subsidiary of BT, although there may be some moves to run it as a separate operation, which sort of already happens anyway.
Ofcom had originally wanted Openreach to be completely separated and possibly sold off, mainly because there were accusations that BT was using the company to shut out rivals from the broadband business in the UK.
Moreover, the government had accused BT of under-investing in Openreach, and using its broadband network to fund big-money deals such as buying up rights to Premier League football matches.
One of the consequences of such decisions was said to be a deterioration in the levels of service to customers.
Sky, which owns the broadcast rights to the majority of Premier League games, is one of BT’s most vocal critics.
The broadcaster bundles its satellite television service with phone and internet services which all rely on the BT and Openreach broadband network.
Sky and other rivals of BT, such as Vodafone and TalkTalk, have been asking for the broadband network to be opened to its engineers.
Ofcom’s chief executive, Sharon White, says the new agreement will make it easier for other companies to access the broadband network.
As quoted in TheGuardian.com, White says: “This could bring about significant change. It will mean you have faster, more reliable broadband. It will mean engineers turning up on time and getting the job done first time. And crucially for the UK it will mean more investment in fast fibre to the doorstep.”