Livingston said anti-BT sentiments are being pushed by people who want to live in the technological past, and compared their stance to the Luddites, displaced early industrial era workers who tried to fight the coming of newer technology.
"These criticisms are coming from people I can only describe as copper Luddites," he told the paper, claiming they "don't want to see the U.K. getting fiber."
Livingston also said his rivals are trying to "stop" his firm's fiber program "so they can sweat their own copper assets" and thus "want to hobble the U.K. economy for their own commercial reasons." He also said BT's network is open for use to any provider in the U.K. on the same terms as itself. As there are "50 or 60" of such providers, by definition his firm cannot be accused of running a monopoly, Livingston said.
It is true BT has committed to spend £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) on connecting two-thirds of British homes and businesses to this technology, which can deliver faster broadband than the copper network. However, it is also true that the company is getting state subsidies in at least some projects, such as its recent announcement to hook up remote parts of Scotland to fiber, largely through subsidy from the government.
It's this kind of deal that's prompting Dunstone's attacks, with the businessman saying that regulation should be toughened to ensure BT doesn't end up with too big of an advantage in next-generation broadband delivery. "There is so much government money going into subsidizing higher broadband speeds, but no one really knows where it is going and how it is being spent," he claimed in his Financial Times interview.
It is also the case that BT remains the only company seriously bidding for contracts for this kind of rural outreach. Therefore, TalkTalk said the U.K. communications watchdog, Ofcom, should be forced to assess the wholesale price BT plans to charge for access to the super-fast broadband network.
Such a move is not very likely, which might oblige BT's competitors to keep using the press as a platform to indicate their unhappiness with its apparently irresistible rise to become the U.K.'s major fiber player, though it does face serious competition, especially in the consumer market, from John Malone's recent Liberty purchase of Virgin Media.
For example, when BT reported fiscal results for the first six months of its current financial year in February, it said its Openreach home broadband brand has 1.25 million homes signed up; Virgin has four million.
Mobile technology is changing the way we live, work and play. Attend Mobile Commerce World , June 24-26 in San Francisco, to learn how to develop and deploy your company’s mobile commerce strategy. Spend three days learning from key players at Walmart, Amazon, Zappos, 1-800-FLOWERS, Advance Auto Parts, Alex and Ani, Groupon, REI, Vegas.com and more who are harnessing the power of mobile commerce. Register with code MP_BTMEDIWKAXE and save $200 on an All Access pass.
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.