BT and Ofcom reach agreement on future governance of Openreach – Anneli Howard and Daisy Mackersie act for BT/Openreach

13 Mar 2017 | by Monckton Chambers

BT had agreed to “legally separate” Openreach.

For the last two years, Anneli Howard has been advising BT on the extent of OFCOM’s legal powers regarding its regulation of access to broadband infrastructure as part of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications.  In particular, Ofcom has been consulting on proposals to split Openreach –  the division of BT that owns and operates its broadband network – into a separate legal entity that is entirely independent of BT. That degree of separation would be far more extensive than the functional separation arrangements adopted back in 2005. Anneli drafted the detailed response by BT to Ofcom’s July consultation and has been advising BT on its regulatory strategy.

On 29 November 2016, Ofcom announced that it intended to proceed with mandating the legal separation of Openreach, the wholesale broadband services provider, from the rest of the BT Group.

On 10 March 2017, it was announced that BT and Ofcom have reached agreement on a long-term regulatory settlement that will see Openreach become a distinct company with its own Board as part of the BT Group. Around 32,000 employees will transfer to the new entity once pension arrangements are in place and Openreach Limited will have its own brand without the BT logo.

The agreement is based upon voluntary commitments submitted by BT that the regulator has confirmed address all its competition concerns.

Anneli Howard leading Daisy Mackersie was instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

See BT news release.

The agreement has attracted wide media attention including: BBC; Telegraph; The GuardianSky News; FT; Daily Mail; CNBC; City A.M.; The Times.