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C&W CEO: BT is working against its customers

Breaking up is hard to do
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Breaking up is hard to do

BT is not working in the interests of one of its biggest customers by launching its 21CN, according to Cable & Wireless' UK CEO Jim Marsh. And he should know since his company is among the largest customers for BT's Wholesale business.

In an interview with silicon.com, Marsh said C&W is keen to reduce its dependency on BT Wholesale - which, he says, puts the telco in a tricky position.

Marsh said: "They need us to make their business case work, they need us to transfer our business to the 21CN [BT's all-IP network]. Everything I'm trying to do with our business is not to do that - I want to reduce our dependency on them. I see a fascinating challenge for them: they're working in opposition to their customer."

According to Marsh, customers are pushing for a Cable & Wireless that's entirely free of BT. It's not going to happen though. "I think we will never be entirely free of BT - there will always be a part of the geography where it's not economic to have more fibre dug in," he said.

When the potential separation of BT's Wholesale and Retail units was rejected by Ofcom, in favour of the creation of a wholesale broadband access unit named BT Openreach, Marsh criticised the regulator saying there was no positive impact from the new unit.

Marsh maintains that its rival must be divided for the UK telecoms market to be competitive.

He said: "We are of course giving Openreach the opportunity to be a success but we're not relying on it being a success." As an alternative, C&W is investing in its own unbundled network - and more plans are afoot.

Marsh told silicon.com the telco is now looking at whether to expand its unbundling plans. "It's more likely than not," he said.

Click here to read the full Q&A with C&W CEO Jim March.

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