BT warned it may be split up over superfast broadband 'monopoly'
22nd May 2012 | 23:03
Shadow business minister wants government to foster competition
BT has been warned that it will not be allowed to monopolise the UK's superfast broadband industry and may need to break-up into two companies.
Shadow business minister Chi Onwurah says the UK is 'sleepwalking into another monopoly' and believes competition offered by Virgin Media isn't enough to stem the potential BT dominance.
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Onwurah told a House of Lords inquiry that: "BT must be made to understand that if superfast broadband is a monopoly, they will not be allowed to enjoy it.
"I think structural separation is something we are going to have to look at," she continued.
"It's a significant intervention and BT would rightly complain but monopoly provision of superfast broadband just isn't an acceptable option."
Part of Onwurah and many of BT's rivals' concerns surrounds the likelihood of the telecoms giant getting its hands on vast sums of taxpayer cash earmarked for the nationwide improvement of the infrastructure.
The government will spend £980m over the next two parliaments to ensure every UK household can receive at least 2Mbps and BT, along with Fujitsu, are the only bidders for the contracts.
Virgin Media yesterday called it a 'subsidy'
What about Virgin?
However, the shadow minister's assertion that BT will have a monopoly on the market is somewhat baffling.
The telecom's giant is locked in a tit-for-tat battle with Virgin Media, with both companies pushing for ever rising download speeds.
Virgin Media recently announced that its 100Mbps fibre-optiic cable network is now available to over 10 million households in the UK.
The company says it will have soon developed its infrastructure to the point where half of the homes in the nation will be able to make use of its fastest speeds.
Virgin Media may not be happy about the alleged BT government 'subsidies', but Sir Richard's company is certainly doing enough to make talk of a BT monopoly somewhat superfluous.