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BT chief bites back at minister’s favour for Openreach overhaul

BT’s chief executive has reportedly hit out at the government over calls for a ‘radical’ shake up of network arm Openreach. 

Last week the government issued a statement saying that the current relationship between Openreach and the wider BT group ‘will not deliver the country’s needs for more competition, better innovation and better service.’ 

Sky News reports that BT Group chief executive Gavin Patterson wrote to culture secretary John Whittingdale following these comments, saying that the government hasn’t taken into account BT’s trials of G.fast technology, which has delivered download speeds of over 700Mbps in lab conditions.  

Related: BT announces new ultrafast broadband trials: G.fast for muggles, gigabit fibre for business wizardsHyperoptic: ‘PIA would let us bring fibre to the people’The letter also reportedly states that he government appears to have missed BT’s promise to invest heavily in Openreach should it remain firmly part of BT. 

Back in September, BT unveiled plans to roll out G.fast and gigabit FTTP to millions of domestic and business customers over the next five years, provided ‘the right regulatory framework’ was put in place. 

As a result of telecoms watchdog Ofcom’s recent strategic review, it’s expected that BT will have to streamline its PIA (Passive Infrastructure Access) service, which should make it easier for rival companies to use BT’s network of telegraph poles and underground ducts to set up their own networks. 

Ofcom’s review stopped short of going full King Soloman, but hasn’t ruled out separating Openreach, which is used by over 80 ISPs, from the BT group in the future. 

Last week, the government issued a statement saying it ‘believes Ofcom should be firmly focused on taking whatever action is needed to correct the competition problems identified, and to promote the growth of the digital economy, however radical a change that might be.’

It should be noted that Sky News’s owner has some skin in this game; alongside TalkTalk, Sky was one of the ISPs most vocal in its dissapointment with Ofcom’s desicion to not call for a full split. 

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