On 10 March 2017 BT and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) each announced that BT has made a formal notification to Ofcom setting out proposals in relation to the restructuring and legal separation of Openreach, its network division. BT’s commitments mean that, while it will continue to own Openreach’s assets, Openreach will become a legally distinct company within BT Group with its own staff, management, strategy, annual operating plans and a legal purpose to serve all of its customers equally.
Ofcom’s announcement indicates that BT’s commitments, combined with regulation resulting from Ofcom’s regular market reviews, will form a comprehensive solution to problems in the market that Ofcom identified in its Strategic Review of Digital Communications.
On 17 March 2017 Ofcom published a consultation document setting out (i) further detail on how BT’s commitments address Ofcom’s competition concerns, (ii) proposals to release BT from the undertakings it had previously given in relation to Openreach, and (iii) proposals to monitor and enforce the new structure for Openreach. The closing date for responses is 14 April 2017.