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anna soubry

BT's infrastructure subsidiary Openreach should become a separate company, former Business Minister Anna Soubry has said.

Ofcom recently ordered BT to give more independence and investment powers to Openreach, with the broadband subsidiary being run as a distinct and legally separate company with its own board.

However, it stopped short of calling for a full split from BT, arguing its proposals will provide Openreach with the greatest possible degree of independence without separating the companies entirely, and lead to decisions being taken for the good of its customers and the wider telecoms industry.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Soubry admitted she was "very surprised" at this decision and said Ofcom has "not delivered".

"Radical action needs to be taken so that we have superfast broadband across the UK," she commented.

"It's outrageous in this day and age that people do not have access to superfast broadband."

Ms Soubry added that BT has "had enough second chances" to improve connectivity across the UK.

Ofcom has responded by stressing that separating Openreach from BT would be a "major undertaking" that could cause long-term disruption for the whole industry.

A spokesperson said: "We can't afford to wait for better broadband, so we're planning to reform Openreach more quickly - making it legally separate from BT, so that it serves all telecoms customers equally."

Ms Soubry's views reflect those of a number of industry figures. For instance, Sky Group Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said that while Ofcom's proposals are a "step in the right direction", they fall short of the "full change that would have guaranteed the world-class broadband network customers expect and the UK will need".

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