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This from Ofcom:

 

Arrangements to give Openreach greater independence from BT continue to progress well but there is more to do, Ofcom has found in its annual monitoring report on how the separation is working.

In 2017 Ofcom accepted commitments from BT to reform Openreach. This included Openreach becoming a legally separate entity with its own board, management and staff. We set up the Openreach Monitoring Unit to monitor the steps taken to put these new arrangements in place and assess how they are working in practice.

This is the first annual monitoring report on those arrangements, covering the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. We have found:

  • Overall, real progress has been made implementing the new arrangements, but there is more to be done. Continued focus is required by both BT and Openreach to strengthen Openreach’s strategic independence and engagement with its customers.
  • Openreach’s new board, and financial and planning processes, are helping to increase independence. These measures seek to balance Openreach independence with appropriate BT Group oversight. However, there is still more to do to improve transparency of how this balance is being struck.
  • Openreach has increased the scale and pace of full-fibre broadband roll-out, though longer-term plans remain vague. Openreach has raised its target for full-fibre connections from 3 to 4 million premises by March 2021. BT also announced an ambition for Openreach to reach 15 million premises by the mid-2020s – but this is not a firm commitment. We will continue to monitor progress and seek further clarity on how this ambition will be achieved.
  • Openreach has a vital role to play in working constructively with industry to deploy fibre networks. We expect to see Openreach working constructively with its competitors and we continue to closely monitor its behaviour and actions – including implementing new arrangements to give competing network providers access to BT’s ‘ducts and poles'.
  • In general, feedback from industry and Openreach’s customers has been positive, but not always. There have been positive steps towards improved engagement and collaboration. But not all feedback has been positive and some providers still have concerns, for example about the potential for confidential information to be shared between the two organisations. We expect to see further improvements in how Openreach demonstrates it is treating all its customers fairly and equally.
  • We are encouraged by early progress in implementing cultural change, but more focus is needed to make this sustainable. Organisational culture at both BT and Openreach is fundamental to the success of the new arrangements. We have been encouraged by the commitment from leadership in both organisations, but this needs to embedded at all levels too. This change will require continued and concerted effort, and it will remain a focus for our monitoring.

We will continue to monitor closely how the arrangements are working in practice, and we will publish our next annual monitoring report in summer 2020.

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