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Separation: The UK experience

How can the UK experience of BT's separation inform our understanding of Telstra's future? In this week's Twisted Wire podcast, we talked to the key UK players to get the lay of the land.
Written by Phil Dobbie, Contributor

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Just under five years ago Britain's BT was encouraged to functionally separate. We're told the split has resulted in more competition and better prices for customers. Some might also be surprised by the impact it has on BT. It seems to have grown from the experience.

The UK makes an interesting case study for Australia right now. There are parallels and some notable differences, including the preference for Telstra to be structurally separated.

I called up a few key players to get their take on how the experiment has worked over there, including:

  • David Stewart, competition policy director at Ofcom
  • Jon Furmston the director of the Equality of Access Office at BT
  • Carolyn Kimber, chair of the Communications Management Association

There were a few things I wanted to find out: in particular, is functional separation enough? Is the push for structural separation of Telstra a bit of overkill? I was also keen to see if the arrangements helped or hindered investment in future infrastructure. I'll leave you to judge the comments on that one. There's also the question of what it did for investors? Did BT shareholders lose out?

Have a listen and leave your thoughts in the Talkback section at the end of this post.

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