THE BT and Openreach separation could be a boon for rural Scotland, the Chief Executive of the country’s largest independent telecoms firm has said.
Previously, calls were made to make Openreach a fully independent organisation – severed from all ties to BT – but Ricky Nicol, Chief Executive of Commsworld, has welcomed the recently announced split that will see Openreach run by an autonomous board funded by the telecoms giant.
He said: “Now change is coming, we add our voice to those welcoming and optimistically looking forward to the difference it could make for businesses, as well as a rural domestic market that has been poorly underserved for so long.
“Rural Scotland, in particular, has long suffered through poor connectivity – and recent changes at Openreach could have significant ramifications for more sparsely populated areas.
“The news of the separation with a new, independent board means that it is crunch time for strategists and policy makers to make sure rural areas are effectively reached.”
For many high-profile commentators, the company was too closely linked to BT’s operations, which are driven by the higher profits available to it through the domestic market and specifically the allure of ‘quad-play contracts’ – mobile phones, landline, TV and internet connections that can reach £100 per month per household.
This domestic drive heightens the attraction to improve infrastructure to homes and businesses in conurbation, rather than in rural communities – which often miss out on new infrastructure for rural businesses which could then be utilised by the domestic market.
Ricky added: “In an ideal world, total separation would make sense, but the truth is that untangling Openreach from its overseer would be a logistical nightmare, with some 32,000 staff to be transferred to a new company.
“Government pledges to have 100 per cent connectivity in every community and business by 2021, make it apt that this process is streamlined and compromises are found.
“The target is certainly achievable but will also require cooperation and collaboration. For it to work, the major network providers must be encouraged to work in tandem with the smaller ones in the regions to ensure that fast speeds and infrastructure reach the places that they are intended to.
“Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest that this more autonomous operation acts in the interest of all UK business and our future prosperity hinges on the successful roll-out of a quality network.”
Already Openreach, in its new form, has recruited 195 trainees to service, amongst others, Inverness, Wick, Orkney and the Western Isles – areas that have suffered due to the lack of profit potential.
Founded in 1994, Commsworld is an Edinburgh headquartered firm, with offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and more than 70 staff operating across public and private sector contracts.
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