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Virgin Media boss urges UK watchdogs not to pick wrong BT battle

Meanwhile, biz wing of telco to offer SMBs a broadband boost

By Kelly Fiveash, 20 Oct 2015

Broadband World Forum Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge was – just like his peers in the ISP game – preoccupied with regulatory policy during a keynote speech at the Broadband World Forum on Tuesday.

In a carefully worded speech, the Kiwi said that the "attack" on BT from rival UK telco bosses, who have called for the company's Openreach division to be broken away from the one-time state monopoly, was "not something [Virgin Media] agreed with as an infrastructure investor."

Earlier this week, Vodafone became the latest telco to submit a robust verbal assault against BT.

In its submission to Ofcom's digital comms review, Voda argued that the regulator should take "bold structural steps" by divorcing BT from its Openreach wing.

Mockridge, however, sees things differently. He thinks Ofcom should open up the playing field for Virgin Media to compete more directly by, for example, granting the Liberty Global-owned firm the same wayleave entitlement as the one already enjoyed by BT.

He claimed that Virgin Media was "the only real competition" in the fibre broadband market.

That said, Mockridge still wants watchdogs to come down heavy on BT – but only in ways that would, naturally enough, benefit Virgin Media. So BT's upcoming £12.5bn gobble of EE, which awaits regulatory clearance and is subject to a competition probe, is a quibble for Mockridge.

"You could say there will be too much mobile spectrum in the hands of one company," he said.

During his keynote confab, Mockridge added that the biz wing of Virgin Media would begin offering fibre broadband speeds of up to 300Mbps to SMB customers from early next year. ®

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