TalkTalk fears BT fibre monopoly


The fibre broadband wars continue in the UK as TalkTalk again lashes out at BT over fears of a monopoly.

TalkTalk's commercial head claimed BT was trying to establish control over fibre, which would leave the UK with a weaker infrastructure than competitive nations.

"At all times BT is thinking about how it can recover the monopoly position that it lost many years ago," TalkTalk's group commercial director David Goldie told the Observer.

We've got to have fair pricing so that these other companies can have a good crack at the whip.

"I don't think that is going to represent good value for the British taxpayer."

TalkTalk has slammed BT over its stance in the fibre industry before. In IT Pro's special report on fibre rollout, another of the telecoms company's employees raised concerns about BT's pricing of its wholesale infrastructure.

"We've got to have fair pricing so that these other companies can have a good crack at the whip," said Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk.

"Openreach don't want us to have fair pricing because that's their way of protecting their monopoly and making sure they're the only game in town."

BT bashing

The back and forth over fibre stems back to a letter sent to the Government from a host of ISPs earlier this year, complaining about BT's pricing of underlying fibre infrastructure.

BT was accused of charging too much for its Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA). Virgin, TalkTalk and others claimed BT spends far less on implementing PIA than it charges for it.

BT thinks its prices are more than fair, claiming it is offering 10-15 per cent below the average cost elsewhere in Europe in terms of rental per metre.

Furthermore, it has pointed to its own 2.5 billion investment into fibre in the UK.

"Unlike other companies, BT has provided reciprocal wholesale access to its fibre network from the outset," a spokesperson said.

"This allows other operators to piggyback off our investment, while encouraging competition and the take-up of fibre services to thrive. We've also volunteered to provide additional forms of wholesale access via our ducts and poles."

BT said it expected to announce revised pricing for its wholesale services soon to "provide Openreach's customers with more clarity when bidding for BDUK funds." BDUK is the fund set up by the Government to help spread superfast connections across the UK.

"We will continue to take the views of industry into account as the roll-out progresses," the spokesperson added.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.