Douglas Carswell

25 JAN 2016

BT Openreach is the Internet's Network Rail

Ask Essex commuters their opinion on Network Rail, and you won't find many who think it should be the model for national infrastructure projects. So is why the Government using exactly the same model for broadband?

Network Rail is an unaccountable public monopoly. BT Openreach is an unaccountable private monopoly. Just as Network Rail controls the whole of our railways, BT Openreach controls our broadband infrastructure. It faces no competition, and has total leverage over its clients. So in both cases, the result is the same: poor service for consumers.

BT Openreach has received £1.7 billion of taxpayers' money to make broadband faster. Yet 5.7 million people across Britain are still stuck with Internet connections that don't meet the industry's minimum standard. And that doesn't just affect households, but businesses too. BT's poor service is costing Britain money – and the Government is rewarding it for failure.

That's why I signed a cross-party report calling on the regulator Ofcom to hold BT to account. The report's main recommendation is that Openreach should be separate from BT, which as a service provider as well as the infrastructure owner has an unfair advantage.

I think we can go further still. Making Openreach an independent private monopoly won't solve the core issue. We need to start looking into ways to break the infrastructure monopolies altogether, and introduce real competition. Services won't improve until customers have real choice.

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