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Energis backs calls for BT break-up

Ofcom should just get on with it and split BT up, says Energis chief John Pluthero
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

UK telecoms operator Energis has urged Ofcom to stop trying to 'paper over the cracks' and instead make decisive moves to break-up the telecoms giant.

Speaking on Monday, Energis effectively rejected BT's offer of widespread internal changes to deliver 'transparent and equal access' to its local network. The rival telco claimed there is a massive conflict of interest because BT sells its own retail services and also provides wholesale products for other companies -- such as ISPs -- to offer to customers.

The only solution, Energis claims, is structural separation."Twenty years of hard evidence suggest that we stop deluding ourselves that increasingly elaborate ways of papering over the cracks are in any way useful. BT's proposals prove that structural separation is achievable - we should just get on with it," said John Pluthero, chief executive of Energis.

Energis was giving its opinion in response to Ofcom's Strategic Review of Telecommunications. Back in November, Ofcom warned BT that the telco could be broken up unless it gives competitors the same access to its wholesale network, at the same price, as BT's own retail arm.

BT responded last Friday with a series of wide-ranging proposals, including the creation of an "access services" division, which would be responsible for giving BT's rivals fair access to its network.

Two of the five places on this division would be chosen in consultation with Ofcom, and one is likely to go to an Ofcom board member -- a sign, BT said on Monday, that genuine change was on offer.

"Our proposals give all the benefits of break-up without any of the hassle, either for BT or the rest of the industry," said a BT spokesman, who added other telcos have welcomed its proposals.

"Energis is a lone voice crying in the wilderness," he added.

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