C&W chief slates BT arm for connection delays

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John Pluthero, the head of Cable & Wireless UK, has slammed BT's network division Openreach for poor service and has complained to the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, that delays in connecting network equipment within local exchanges could stifle competition.

His comments follow a report from Ofcom that said BT's service performance "across a range of wholesale products has at times been poor, and promised improvements have not always been fully delivered". Mr Pluthero has recently met with Ofcom to discuss these issues.

Mr Pluthero said: "We are not overly impressed with what we have seen so far and, as Ofcom's own report admits, we have seen worsening service performance and the promised service improvements are just that, only promises."

The regulator said that the service performance problems "significantly affect the ability for effective and sustainable competition to develop".

Openreach, BT's network division, is responsible for ensuring that telecoms companies, including BT's retail division, have equal access to the company's infrastructure. Companies such as C&W, Sky and Carphone Warehouse have invested millions of pounds installing equipment in BT's local exchanges to offer faster and cheaper broadband to customers compared to the incumbent operator's wholesale service.

The separation of BT's retail and network assets is a key plank in Ofcom's attempt to foster competition in the UK fixed-line telecoms and broadband markets.

Ofcom said BT has invested an "enormous" amount of effort and resources in implementing the regulator's proposals in establishing Openreach. The regulator said BT has resolved many of the problems it has identified or has taken steps to address the issues, but that there is "clearly a significant amount of work to be done".

A BT spokesman said: "Clearly there are still a number of challenges ahead, but it is pleasing that Ofcom acknowledges that a great deal of progress has been made. BT is committed to working with Ofcom and the rest of the industry to ensure that no momentum is lost as we move forward together."