BT has called a report from the British Infrastrucuture Group (BIG), urging Ofcom to structurally separate Openreach, as “misleading and ill-judged”.
BIG, a cross-party body of lawmakers, described Openreach’s FTTC architecture as “incredibly outdated” in a report entitled Broadbad that was published over the weekend.
It claimed BT had showed “a lack of ambition and underinvestment” and only a structural separation would provide a long-term solution.
The report also cited research from Digital Strategy Consulting that claimed slow internet connections were costing the UK economy £11 billion (€14.5b) a year in lost productivity.
BT claimed some of the other findings in the report were simply wrong.
For example, it said claims that it had received £1.7 billion (€2.2b) in taxpayer subsidies were incorrect. BT said the figure is £700 million (€922m).
Much of the report focused on those areas that do not get fibre currently.
However, BT said claims that 5.7 million people in the UK have internet connections that do not reach Ofcom’s “acceptable” minimum speed of 10Mbps were also incorrect.
The UK regulator does not have any such legal requirement but uses 10Mbps as its estimate of what most people need.
Ofcom did point out that the government has committed to upgrade what is called the universal service obligation to that figure by 2020.
The report also echoed claims by BT’s rivals that a separated Openreach would provide them with a better service with regard to correcting faults, for example.
Ofcom is due to report next month on its review of the UK’s digital communications market, which could force Openreach to be spun off.
The BIG report said: “We believe that Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation.
“Yet instead we have a monopoly company clinging to outdated copper technology with no proper long-term plan for the future.
“We need to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind the other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement.”
BT said: “We take any criticism seriously but we think this report and its recommendations are misleading and ill-judged.
“Independent data from Ofcom, the EU and others repeatedly place the UK number one for broadband and superfast broadband when compared to other large EU countries.
“Ninety percent of UK premises can already access a fibre optic broadband connection. That will soon climb to 95 percent and above.
“We understand the impatience for progress to be even faster, but improving broadband is a major engineering project that involves contending with all manner of physical and geographic challenges.
“The idea that there would be more broadband investment if BT’s Openreach infrastructure division became independent is wrong-headed.
“As a smaller, weaker, standalone company, it would struggle to invest as much as it does currently.”