Rivals hit back at BT criticism of their campaign

Billy Bambrough
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Chief executive Gavin Patterson has been under pressure to defend BT’s spending (Source: Getty)

BT rivals – TalkTalk, Sky, and Vodafone – have hit back following BT boss Gavin Patterson’s complaints over their Fix Britain’s Internet campaign.

In a letter signed by Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch, Jeroen Hoencamp, the outgoing head of Vodafone UK, and TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding, the bosses rail against the level of BT’s spending on its infrastructure arm Openreach.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson, wrote yesterday morning to his counterparts at TalkTalk, Sky, and Vodafone to complain that their campaign to rally UK broadband customers against the UK’s existing internet infrastructure is misleading consumers.

Read more: Talking the talk – Harding on Ofcom, hacks, and fibre

The campaign – which has already been forced to amend details over whether BT spent more on sports rights than on broadband – argues that BT spends “billions buying the rights to televised football rather than investing this money in Britain’s broadband infrastructure” and that “in rural areas, nearly half of premises can’t get speeds above 10 MB/s”.

It’s calling on internet users to complain to the telecoms watchdog Ofcom as well as their local MP over the quality of their service.

The heads of BT’s rivals claim:

Ofcom data shows that deployment of pure fibre in the UK is below that in Turkey, Mexico and Poland. This is a wasted opportunity which risks Britain’s future competitiveness, prosperity and quality of life.

In his earlier letter Patterson said the Fix Britain’s Internet campaign “paints an unfairly diminished view of connectivity across the UK and makes a number of misleading statements”.

Read more: Economic think tank calls for Openreach to be carved out from BT

Last month Ofcom recommended BT legally separate Openreach while leaving it under the BT Group umbrella, giving it more independence and investment powers but leaving senior BT managers in charge of the purse strings.

The watchdog’s consultation of the proposals will run until the middle of September.

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