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Ofcom has been urged to take "bold action" concerning the future of national telecoms network Openreach.

According to Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk, the recently unveiled Digital Economy Bill represents a "step in the right direction" for the broadband market.

However, she insisted that this is "not a panacea", and that the government's efforts to deliver universal broadband coverage will be "seriously undermined" unless Openreach is substantially reformed.

Earlier this year, Ofcom published its Strategic Review of Digital Communication, which outlined a strategy to promote the rollout of ultrafast broadband facilities on a large scale, based on cable and fibre lines.

Although the regulator stopped short of demanding that Openreach be separated from BT, it did suggest that it be governed "at arm's length from BT, with greater independence in taking its own decisions on budget, investment and strategy". 

TalkTalk, Sky and Vodafone have since joined an industry coalition to push for Openreach to be established as a legally separate company, as this would be a necessary first step to "true independence".

Ms Harding argued that a structural separation of Openreach from BT would "drive a step change in investment, innovation, speed and quality of service".

"You don’t need to be a telecoms expert to know the market is not working," she said.

"Having acknowledged the problems facing the industry, Ofcom now has a big decision to make."

However, Ms Harding admitted she is concerned that the regulator's deliberations have been carried out behind closed doors with BT representatives.

She stated that the UK's digital future is "too important to be decided in a backroom deal between just two parties", as consumers and businesses also need to be heard.

Ms Harding added that BT is understood to be "proving immovable" on the idea of both a legal and structural separation of Openreach.

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