BT IS LOOKING INCREASINGLY ALONE in its calls to keep Openreach in its own grasp, and now has Ofcom, Sky and the Labour party looking at the pairing and thinking that the broadband business could do a lot better.
Ofcom is considering how suitable they are for each other and the country and its internet infrastructure. BT can hear what they are saying, but does not necessarily agree with what it is hearing.
Shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant has used The Telegraph to get his point across. Perhaps he has even sent BT a copy.
"It has become as integral a part of a British August as the rain. Everyone goes on holiday somewhere in the British countryside and suddenly discovers that vast reaches of the country are no-go areas for mobile phones and broadband," said Bryant, who suggested that the current government makes a lot of noise and delivers little action.
"The prime minister says he's fed up with it. He announces that something will be done and the government spin machine goes immediately into motion," he added.
"Having just been to Cornwall on a family holiday and spent days hanging out of the kitchen window to get a mobile signal, I know how infuriating this response from the government can be. However much the government witters on, there are still too many areas that have absolutely no broadband coverage at all."
Bryant is just like you, you see. He's a people, and he gets the problem. He sees politicians as hot air- and promise-making machines that do not deliver. His party would do things differently, he added, explaining that this is what it wanted to do all along.
"Even the very basic level of 2Mbps is not available in some parts thanks to the government's decision to abandon Labour's target of achieving 100 percent coverage by 2012," he added.
"The government is considering a minimum requirement - or universal service obligation - but only of 5Mbps, not the 10Mbps that Ofcom says we need at the very least."
Bryant sees the Ofcom activity as the solution, but added that perhaps it needs a bit of a kick in the right direction. The shadow secretary - this means he is in opposition as opposed to being some sort of spectre - said that the regulator has its hands tied and does not have the power to bring Openreach to task over its performance.
"At the very least Openreach should be held accountable for its poor quality of service - the delays for repairs, the missed appointments, the months of waiting to switch providers. But Ofcom also needs to be brought into focus," he said.
"It is time the government stopped dithering and got on with reforming Ofcom's overly burdensome appeals process. Mobile and broadband consumers have suffered far too long delays and businesses have suffered unnecessary regulatory uncertainty. Thus far, with a swath of the country still travelling at a snail's pace digitally, the system has failed to deliver."
BT, which is probably fed up with all this now, declined to comment. However, it did tell us that it is launching a new speedy service called Gfast with government support and super, super speedy speeds in its sights. µ
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