BT’S “MONOPOLY” of the broadband cable network needs to be broken up if the UK is to escape the digital dark ages, Monmouth MP David Davies has warned.
A report co-signed by Mr Davies and a coalition of more than 100 cross-party MPs shows a “staggering” 5.7 million people do not receive the minimum expected download speeds of 10 Megabits per second, as stipulated by regulator Ofcom.
They claim broadband customers are suffering “dire” internet connection at home and at work, with some experiencing “no service at all”, and say the situation is “untenable”.
“Fast broadband should be a reality in all our communities yet, sadly, this is not the case,” said Mr Davies.
“Throughout Monmouthshire, residents and local businesses are dealing with some appalling connections and gaps in services.
“In fact, the Monmouth constituency falls into the bottom 10 per cent of seats for average download speeds.”
Published by former Cabinet Minister Grant Shapps, the report from the British Infrastructure Group of MPs – entitled BroadBad – warns businesses are struggling and Britain is lagging behind other countries including Japan, South Korea and Spain despite the government spending £1.7bn on improving broadband.
It calls for Britain’s network of “outdated” copper cables to be entirely replaced with a superfast fibre system.
Also recommended is a radical overhaul of the internet market with the break-up of the “natural monopoly” that BT holds on the cable network.
BT’s Openreach division, which owns and maintains the cables, must be sold off to promote competition and improve the quality of internet services more quickly, the study concludes.
121 MPs from across parties endorsed its findings in a letter to the Telegraph.
Mr Davies added: “Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation. Instead, we suffer from having a BT-run monopoly clinging to outdated copper technology with no proper long-term plan for the future.
“Britain needs to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind those other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement.
“However, Britain will only achieve this by taking action to open up the sector. Given all the delays and missed deadlines, I believe a formal separation of BT from Openreach, combined with fresh competition and a concerted ambition to deliver, will create the broadband service that our constituents and businesses so rightly demand.
“We deserve better.”
Ofcom has been reviewing the operation of the sector and is expected to publish its findings within weeks.