Ofcom invites suggestions on how to handle BT and Openreach

When Ofcom announced its new "Strategic Review of Digital Communications," the last of which forced BT to create Openreach, Sky and TalkTalk immediately came forward calling for both businesses to be broken up once and for all. Today, the regulator has published a discussion document for the review which details the different approaches now under consideration. Nothing has been left off the table, it seems -- they include keeping the current model, strengthening the controls that keep BT and Openreach's relationship in check, substantial market deregulation and, finally, complete separation.

Discussing the last option, Ofcom said: "This has the potential to deliver benefits, since it would address BT's underlying incentive to discriminate against competitors, and enable a simplified regulatory framework." Ofcom is now calling for feedback from businesses, public bodies and policy makers about the options and how they would affect the UK.

Sky, unsurprisingly, supports Ofcom's decision to scrutinise the BT-Openreach situation: "It is welcome news that Ofcom is putting the future of Openreach at the centre of its review," Mai Fyfield, Sky's Chief Strategy Officer said. "For too long, consumers and businesses have been suffering because the existing structure does not deliver the innovation, competition and quality of service that they need." Sky has already been calling for Ofcom to upgrade the case to a "market investigation reference" with the Competition and Markets Authority, which could, depending on the outcome, also lead to a forced separation of BT and Openreach. Ofcom hasn't indicated that it wants the CMA involved, so we'll just have to wait for the review's findings to be published at "the turn of the year."

[Image Credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images]