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Vodafone chief renews calls for BT - Openreach separation

Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao renews calls for BT and Openreach to be separated, and says Ofcom should take a firmer line on the BT - EE merger

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao has once again called for Ofcom to forcibly end the relationship between BT and its national infrastructure arm Openreach, and said that the BT - EE merger threatened to “unwind 30 years of competition”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme, Colao – who recently launched Vodafone back into the UK domestic broadband market with a new consumer service – said: “Openreach is clearly not working to help competition or choice.”

In contrast to Openreach’s own statistics, which paint an improving picture when it comes to customer services since current CEO Joe Garner took the wheel at the start of 2014, Colao claimed that half of the lines Vodafone was ordering from Openreach were late.

Colao also welcomed the government’s commitment to a 10Mbps universal service obligation – coincidentally the same speed proposed by Openreach in its recently announced charter – but said British broadband users were still stuck in the slow lane.

Colao was speaking as Vodafone filed its latest financial report covering the six months to the end of September 2015, which showed organic revenue growth of 2.8%, to £20.27bn. Core earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation came in at £5.8bn, up 1.9%.

Vodafone said the business was well on its way to becoming a “full service integrated operator” for both homes and businesses in its key markets, with 66 million households in Europe now able to receive broadband service from it, with 42% of those served by Vodafone-owned fibre or cable networks.

Data traffic on its 4G networks continued to grow at a rapid rate, up 75%. Vodafone added 9.7 million mobile customers in the first half of its financial year, taking its total to 29.9 million across the 19 countries where it offers a 4G service. It added that even with this growth, only 20% of its European customer base was buying a 4G product from it.

On the enterprise side, Vodafone said it continued to see more businesses taking services such as mobile device management, cloud and hosting, VPN services and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, in addition to its more traditional mobile voice and data services.

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