BT proposes setting up independent board for Openreach to stave off break-up

Billy Bambrough
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BT chairman Mike Rake made the comments on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme (Source: Getty)

BT has offered to appoint an independent board and chairman to run its Openreach infrastructure arm, handing the division fresh powers ahead of the launch of a regulator consultation tomorrow.

The move appears to be an attempt to appease rivals and prevent the break-up of the group.

BT chairman Mike Rake said forcing separation was not the right way to go but conceded the group had more to do to improve its network – which caused chaos around the country when it suffered widespread outages last week.

Read more: Gloves come off in telecom legal battle over fibre networks

Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme he said:

We’re absolutely willing to form an Openreach board that will have an independent chairman and a majority of independent directors.

We’re willing to give more authority to Openreach in determination of its capital investment programme.

We want to formalise more their ability to listen to communication providers so they’re engaging with them, ensuring that we can also make sure we’re delivering for them as well as for BT retail.

Tomorrow the telecoms watchdog Ofcom will unveil new service targets and reforms for BT’s infrastructure arm Openreach.

The latest step in Ofcom’s long-running Strategic Review of Digital Communications is expected to result in further autonomy for the division but will stop short of full separation.

Read more: BT needs to be open about Openreach aims

Ofcom will tomorrow morning open its interim findings to consultation — a process that is expected to last between 10 and 12 weeks.

It’s thought Ofcom will threaten BT with a forced break-up unless Openreach dramatically improves service levels. In February Ofcom stopped short of demanding Openreach be hived off from BT, but said the option was still on the table.

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