Mark Williams, Member of Parliament for Ceredigion and leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats has criticised Ofcom’s decision not to break up BT’s Openreach division.
Openreach, who install and maintain the wires and cables necessary for the UK’s telecoms network, has come under criticism for failing to invest in broadband infrastructure and services sufficiently across the UK. However, this week Ofcom has rejected calls to split Openreach from BT, instead ruling that Openreach should become a legally separate company, with control over its own budget and branding.
Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White has said that the scale of BT’s pension scheme, estimated at £40 billion, has meant there were “practical obstacles” that would delay the process by several years. Instead, the plans put forward by Ofcom “can be introduced within months, rather than the years that a sell-off would involve”
In response to the news Mark said, “Ceredigion sits in the bottom 10% of constituencies for average broadband speed and superfast availability and I have no doubt that the reason for this is that my constituency is largely rural. The number of broadband related pieces of casework my staff and I get on a weekly basis reflects a growing consensus that something needs to be done about the woeful internet speeds and line maintenance in Wales and the rest of the UK.”
Speaking in an interview with Radio Wales, Mark stressed that broadband is now a necessity, and that continued promises regarding improved and superfast broadband are failing to materialise and seriously affecting peoples’ lives. Mark also made it clear that rural communities, like many of those in Ceredigion, are feeling particularly isolated in this digital age.
Having held a debate in Parliament on broadband in Wales on 6th July, Mark continues to fight for a vastly improved broadband service across both rural Wales and indeed the entire UK.