Vodafone have hit the headlines again as they’ve become embroiled in another competition row with BT. Evidently Vodafone wrote to Ofcom to complain about Openreach’s trials for 330Mbps G.fast broadband technology. According to Vodafone, the trial has broken Ofcom’s stringent rules requiring a prior consultation to occur before tests begin.
This is only the latest in a string of attempts on the part of Vodafone to convince BT to split Openreach, its network access division, from the control of incumbents in the spirit of an ongoing strategic review by Ofcom. Vodafone is seeking to use the opportunity to address what they perceive to be discrimination in the market, and the need to improve pro-competitive investments. The fact that this would also result in Vodafone being able to more easily build their network, should they wish to do so, has certain critics skeptical of their motivations, however we’re inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt!
IS Preview reports that Ofcom is in clear agreement with at least some of the concerns raised by Vodafone. That said, there is so far no indication that Ofcom is making any attempt to reach a new, softer, voluntary agreement with BT. At the same time, Vodafone’s efforts to break into the market in a grand way through a collaboration with Liberty Global, parent of Virgin Media, have been unsuccessful.
With BT proposing an investment of £6 billion in the coming years, some of which will go to the development and launch of the very 1Gbps capable, FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premise) network Vodafone has taken issue with, it’s looking like Vodafone won’t be getting their way.
Ofcom’s track record would indicate a tendency towards flexibility when it comes to trials and pilot programs, and as such it’s quite likely they will make the argument that the issue raised by Vodafone is already (at least partially) being settled within the confines of their ongoing review. Officially, Ofcom have stated that their regulator shall give careful consideration to the concerns raised by Vodafone, however an Openreach spokesperson made it clear that any attempt to delay their roll-out of the G.fast broadband would be entirely unhelpful to all concerned.
It remains to be seen who comes out of the latest telecoms provider battle victorious, but something tells us (rightly or wrongly) that it won’t be Vodafone.
© rhm telecommunications 2023