There are Big Changes Coming Soon to Britain's Internet

By Gizmodo UK on at

By James O'Malley

TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone have teamed up to take on their greatest foe: Thanos BT Openreach.

For several years now the companies have variously demanded that they break up BT's quasi-monopoly over the broadband pipes - it owns the entire Openreach network, through which TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone and BTs broadband services all run. They argue that it isn't fair that BT controls it - and that Openreach should in fact be an entirely separate company, and they want telecoms regulator Ofcom to make it happen. The companies also argue that BT has under-invested in the network, as it is still reliant on ancient copper wires instead of fibre. The website, which is co-sponsored by Sky, cheekily points out that BT has been spending its cash on football rights rather than the network.

"We represent millions of consumers and businesses who rely on Openreach, but are let down every day, struggling to get the internet speeds they need", the campaign website says, adding, "Together, we're asking Ofcom to be brave and make the radical changes needed to create an Openreach that delivers the broadband Britain deserves."

At the end of July Ofcom announced some tough new rules that would see Openreach become even more separate from the rest of BT - albeit, while remaining under BT's corporate umbrella. For its corporate rivals, clearly this does not go far enough.

To fight the war, the generals at Blue State Digital, the agency which is running the campaign, have launched a website that aims to use us consumers as cannon fodder, creating a website that enables individuals to email Ofcom CEO Sharon White to complain about BT with a form letter.

Here's the text of the letter:

For the attention of Sharon White, CEO of Ofcom; and copied to my local MP who I hope will also take an interest.

This email is my response to Ofcom's consultation about the future of Britain's internet. Thank you, Sharon for asking for our opinions. I wanted to write to you as Chief Executive to tell you why having great broadband matters to me and what I believe needs to happen.

I believe my family, my community and our local businesses deserve the best broadband in the world. Whether it's finding a job, doing the shopping, educating our kids or falling in love, the internet is essential to our lives and futures.

Millions of people are not getting the broadband they need today because Openreach is run for the benefit of BT shareholders, not the country. I want to see my money invested in faster, more reliable services and the best technology possible. Instead, things seem to be getting worse.

I'm pleased that Ofcom has agreed things need to change. Ofcom has said separating Openreach entirely is the "cleanest and most clear-cut long term solution". I know this is a big decision, but you have my full support to be bold and do whatever is necessary to create an Openreach that works for the whole of Britain.

Curiously, it doesn't reference any specific demands that the coalition want to impose upon BT - though that might give away the grassroots look the campaign is going for. It'll be interesting to see if it makes Ofcom change their mind - or whether it just makes Sharon White update her spam filter.

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, the tech site which is equally fascinated with design, architecture, and science.