BT accused of super-fast broadband monopoly

Shadow Business Minister mentions splitting the company in two

May 23, 2012
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BT has come under fire this week, with accusations being levelled that it’s unfairly trying to monopolise the super-fast broadband market in the UK.

Virgin Media has been making disapproving noises about how the government’s UK broadband pot of cash seems to be destined entirely for BT’s coffers (with BT and Fujitsu the only two bidders for the BDUK contracts up and down the country).

And now shadow Business Minister Chi Onwurah has come out and said that BT is threatening to carve out a monopoly on next-generation broadband, noting the prospect that the firm might even have to be split into two separate companies.

According to the Guardian, as part of a select committee inquiry into broadband, Onwurah told the House of Lords: “BT must be made to understand that if super-fast broadband is a monopoly, they will not be allowed to enjoy it.”

She added: “I think structural separation is something we are going to have to look at. It’s a significant intervention and BT would rightly complain but monopoly provision of super-fast broadband just isn’t an acceptable option.”

BT, complain? Yes, indeed a spokesman for the company retorted that structural separation wasn’t the answer, unless the government wanted the taxpayer to take on a further financial commitment towards the super-fast fibre roll out.

Perhaps BT is in line for the majority of the government’s broadband cash, which may not seem quite right, but accusing the firm of having a monopoly on fibre seems a little odd considering that Virgin Media isn’t exactly a slouch when it comes to its super-fast roll-out.

In fact, earlier this month BT announced that it has hooked up 10 million premises in the UK to fibre – but Virgin is ahead of the company, with its roll out hitting the 10 million mark back in February. Which hardly indicates that BT is monopolising the super-fast broadband arena…


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