Insights Ofcom publishes annual monitoring report on Openreach independence


Ofcom has published its annual monitoring report on the progress towards delivering a more independent Openreach.

In 2017, BT agreed to Ofcom’s requirements to reform Openreach and signed up to a series of Commitments. The changes meant Openreach becoming a legally separate company with its own board, staff, management and strategy, with a duty serve all its customers equally.

Ofcom says that since Openreach’s independence was established in 2018, it has been closely monitoring how the arrangements have been working in practice. The annual report finds that, overall, Openreach continues to operate in a way that is strategically independent from BT, as envisioned by the Commitments. Strong structures and processes are now well-embedded across both organisations to support compliance or address any issues that may arise. Given the importance of these Commitments to the ecosystem that supports competition in the telecoms market, Ofcom says that it expects BT and Openreach companies to remain vigilant so that they remain secure and central to their relationship in the future. Ofcom will continue to monitor developments closely.

Earlier this year, Ofcom set out new regulations for the wholesale telecoms markets that will help shape the UK’s full-fibre future. The Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review framework aims to incentivise all network builders, including Openreach, to bring faster, more reliable broadband to people across the UK. Openreach also has an important role to play in ensuring that competition operates effectively, for example by allowing other builders access to its underground ducts and telegraph poles.

Given this, Ofcom says that it will expand its future monitoring of Openreach to include areas relating to Ofcom’s full-fibre regulatory framework. In order to support its monitoring, Ofcom is encouraging companies to alert it to any competition concerns that might otherwise risk undermining the development, and widespread availability, of competing full-fibre networks.

As part of this year’s monitoring, some issues have already been highlighted to Ofcom. It encourages Openreach to engage with its customers on these areas of concern and work collaboratively to overcome them. Ofcom will report on progress on these and other areas highlighted by companies in its next report. To access the report, click here.