Morrisons signs deal to sell food to Amazon customers

Morrisons will supply groceries to Amazon customers in the UK under a new deal with the US online giant. The supermarket said it will supply products for the Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Pantry services.
Morrisons will supply groceries to Amazon customers in the UK under a new deal with the US online giant. The supermarket said it will supply products for the Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Pantry services.
Amazon Pantry was launched in the UK last year, escalating competition with the big four supermarkets, but did not offer fresh food. Under the new deal, Morrisons will supply fresh, frozen and non-perishable goods to Amazon customers. The expanded Amazon service will be available later this year.
Analysts at Shore Capital said there was “strategic merit” in Morrisons exploring a commercial tie-up with Amazon. Ocado has a 25-year agreement with Morrisons to run the supermarket’s online delivery service. The supermarket also said it will expand the geographical coverage of by taking space in Ocado’s distribution centre in Erith, southeast London.
However, Morrisons said of the Erith deal: “This amended agreement is subject to detailed terms being agreed and will only proceed if it enables Morrisons to achieve profitable growth online. There can be no certainty that an agreement will be concluded.”
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said: “This is a low risk and capital-light wholesale supply arrangement that demonstrates the opportunity we have to become a broader business. We look forward to working with Amazon to develop and grow this partnership over the coming months.”
Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb commented: “As Morrisons and Ocado seem to be locked in a loveless marriage (much like Waitrose and Ocado), it seems appropriate that they have chosen Leap Day (when by tradition a woman can propose to a man) to announce a strange new agreement, to help them both grow more profitably.
Tim Steiner of Ocado tells us all that ‘this is a win-win arrangement’, but we will have to see whether the two companies eventually end up in the divorce courts.”

WhatsApp to end Blackberry OS support

peoples phone whatsapp logo

WhatsApp is to end support for a number of operating systems including Blackberry 10, Nokia Symbian S60 and Windows Phone 7.1.
The company said it wanted to focus development “on the mobile platforms the vast majority of people use”. Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which is used by a billion people worldwide, will stop working on the named operating systems by December 2016.
But it will still work on Blackberry’s latest smartphone which runs Android.
Most of the operating systems that WhatsApp is dropping support for are legacy operating systems, which are no longer updated or installed on new devices. The exception is Blackberry 10, which was launched in January 2013 and is still being developed by Blackberry.
“We are also planning version 10.3.4 for later this year with even more security improvements,” the firm said in January 2016. However, the operating system has failed to gain traction with smartphone users and now accounts for less than 1% of the market.
There had been speculation that the handset-maker would wind down support for Blackberry 10 after it released a smartphone running Android, and closed its “Built for Blackberry” programme for app developers.
But the firm has insisted: “We’re not abandoning the loyal customers who have contributed to our success.”
The full list of operating systems WhatsApp will stop supporting is: Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, Blackberry OS 7 and earlier, Blackberry 10, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60 & Windows Phone 7.1.
“While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future,” WhatsApp said in a blogpost. When we started WhatsApp in 2009… about 70 percent of smartphones sold at the time had operating systems offered by BlackBerry and Nokia.”
The firm said mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft accounted for 99.5% of sales today.

Apple backed by judge in new iPhone access fight

peoples phone apple logo

A judge in the United States has ruled that Apple cannot be forced to give the FBI access to a locked iPhone in a case that echoes an ongoing legal battle.
The judge in Brooklyn denied a motion by the US Justice Department to get Apple to unlock a phone in a drug case.
In an unrelated case, the FBI wants Apple to unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December. But Apple has resisted, calling that demand “dangerous” and “unprecedented”.
The ruling in Brooklyn on Monday centres on the same point as the San Bernardino case.
Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured when gunman Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire in the Californian city in December. A court order in California demanded Apple help circumvent security software on Farook’s iPhone, which the FBI said contains crucial information.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said the request was “an overreach by the US government” and risked giving authorities “the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data”. Last week, the company asked a court to overturn the ruling.
The same Act from 1789 that was used by the FBI in the San Bernardino request was applied in the Brooklyn case. But Judge James Orenstein said the Act was not applicable in this case, adding that it was not right to impose “on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will”.
The US Justice Department said it planned to appeal against the Brooklyn ruling.

BT Broadband



BT broadband: The complete guide
When it comes to broadband providers, you won’t find bigger than BT. It has arguably the widest range of options – comprising home internet with tons of extras, such as TV and sports channels. It also does business broadband.
But is it right for you? In this guide we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of BT broadband, what we like and don’t like about it, and what actual BT customers have to say about it.
What broadband packages can I get from BT?
BT broadband packages fall into three basic camps – BT Infinity fibre optic broadband, standard broadband, and broadband and TV. Each package can be customised to your liking, so if, for example, you want more inclusive calls, you can upgrade the default call plan before you sign up.
All packages let you watch BT Sport for free online or via smartphone app. If you want to watch the channels on your TV though, you’ll need a broadband and TV bundle.
BT Infinity
If you want to get the most out of the internet, fibre optic broadband is the way to go. It’s perfect for families and houseshares, and makes streaming movies, playing and downloading games, and surfing the web better.
All BT Infinity packages include a BT Smart Hub wireless router, free access to the millions of public BT Wi-fi hotspots across the UK, the BT SmartTalk app, which lets you make mobile calls at your landline rate and BT Parental Controls.
Here are some options currently available:
BT Infinity 1 – This gives you download speeds of up to 52Mb, 25GB of usage a month and 5GB of online storage. This package is a good choice for individuals who want fast broadband for browsing, messaging and social media who don’t watch loads of video, use internet phone services like Skype or play games online.
Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls – This gives you download speeds of up to 52Mb, totally unlimited usage with no traffic management and BT NetProtect Plus security software. It’s perfect for streaming videos and music, and for playing games online. It’s a great choice for families or if you’re living in shared accommodation, as it means everyone can get online without your connection becoming unusably slow.
Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend Calls – This gives you download speeds of up to 76Mb, totally unlimited usage, 500GB of online storage and BT NetProtect Plus security software. It’s perfect for large families or shared houses with lots of web-connected gadgets like phones, tablets, TV boxes and games consoles as its fast enough to support loads of people at once. It’s also excellent for heavy downloaders like gamers, and households where people regularly use streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix at the same time.
BT Broadband
Standard BT broadband – or BT Broadband, as BT calls it – packages give you download speeds of up to 17Mb – although you may not get that – see the FAQ section below for more details – a BT Home Hub wireless router, free access to millions of public BT Wi-fi hotspots, the BT SmartTalk app, which lets you make mobile calls at your landline rate, and BT Parental Controls.
Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls – This has totally unlimited downloads and includes weekend calls to UK landlines and 100GB of online storage. It’s a good choice if you share your connection with a couple of other people and want to be able to use the web willy-nilly, but don’t need superfast speeds.
BT TV is based on YouView. You get a box which lets you watch, record, pause and rewind Freeview channels, easily catch-up on shows you missed and access a vast range of TV shows and movies on-demand. You can also add channels you can’t get on Freeview, like the three BT Sport channels, Comedy Central and Syfy.
You can only get BT TV with BT Infinity or BT Broadband.
What’s good about BT broadband?
Wide range of packages that will suit most people
Widest availability of all providers in the UK
Totally unlimited broadband with no traffic management – BT won’t slow down your connection any time
Affordable TV bundles
Online storage included with all packages
SmartTalk app included with all packages – lets you make calls on your mobile at your landline call rates
Free access to the huge network of public BT Wi-fI hotspots
BT Home Hub ‘smart’ wireless router is one of the best provided by…providers
BT Parental Controls included with all packages
BT Sport free online and on your mobile with all packages
Special offers often available – compare broadband to see what’s about now
What’s bad about BT broadband?
More expensive than that of many providers
BT Infinity not yet available everywhere
Not the fastest broadband available
TV packages less expansive than that of Sky and Virgin Media
Tight usage limits on cheapest packages
BT broadband customer reviews
So that’s what we think, but what about people who actually use it on a day to day basis?
BT broadband scored highly in our Customer Satisfaction Awards for its quality and reliability – arguably the most important aspect of any broadband package. It also earned kudos from customers for the router, activation speed, online security features and clarity of billing.
However, BT customers don’t think they get much in the way of extras from the provider. Opinions were mixed when it came to value for money and speed.
Here’s what BT customers have told us about BT broadband:
“First class broadband service.”
“Pretty good for a rural area.”
“BT is now overpriced compared to others!”
“Would like a faster broadband speed.”
Read more customer feedback and reviews of BT broadband on our reviews page, or see our full review here.
More about BT
Take a look at what else BT has to offer:
BT Infinity
BT home phone
BT Sport
YouView on BT
All BT packages

Network Speed Checker – Check yours in seconds!

Check your network speed in seconds!



Start the network speed test by clicking the start button under the dials. The network speed test will start measuring your download speed and then your upload speed. You will also see your Ping time in milliseconds – the smaller the better.





{tab Wired Broadband | grey}
Before beginning a wired broadband test ensure:
1. Your computer is plugged into the broadband line to be tested. The tester will not be accurate using wi-fi on iPads/Tablets, smartphones or other mobile devices. 
2. Your computer is directly connected to your modem/router via an Ethernet Connection (i.e. not via a wireless or powerline adapters). 
3. Any wireless adapter in your computer is switched off. 
4. Close any programs that may be running on your computer. This includes any background programs such as anti-virus software, corporate VPNs, peer2peer clients etc. (Please ensure you re-enable any anti-virus software after you have finished testing). 
5. Ensure no other people or devices (e.g. broadband-connected TV set-top boxes) are using the broadband line to be tested. 

{tab Wi-Fi Broadband  | grey}
Before beginning a wi-fi broadband test ensure:
1. Close any programs or apps that may be running on your device. This includes any background programs such as anti-virus software, weather apps, etc. 
2. Ensure no other people or devices (e.g. broadband-connected TV set-top boxes) are using the wi-fi connection during testing. 
3. Try to stay relatively close to your router, preferably within line of site, and avoid running equipment that can cause interference such as microwave ovens or unshielded flashing lights. 

{tab 4G/3G Mobile Network | grey}
Before beginning a mobile network test ensure:
1. Close any apps that may be running on your device. This includes any background programs such as anti-virus software, weather apps, etc. 
2. Ensure you have a steady 4G or 3G connection before commencing the test. 
3. Make sure that the wi-fi on your device is turned off.
4. Run the Network Speed Test at different times of the day, as the speed can vary depending upon atmospheric conditions and number of users sharing base station.


What must be installed to use the Network speed checker?
Speed checker should work in any desktop or mobile web browser that supports Flash of version 8 and javascript.

Why the download or upload test does not work?
If you have a firewall or antivirus software installed that is not configured properly, then speed checker may not work correctly. Try to disable the firewall / antivirus when you are running the speed checker. After the test has been completed do not forget to turn it back on so you stay protected.

What might affect my speed test?
Any applications running on your PC, tablet or mobile phone can affect the speed. So you should disable temporarily thngis such as: email checking software, weather applications,  instant messenger or other chat software, internet radio, windows updates, any other downloading or uploading that is currently taking place.

How does the speed checker work?
Our speed checker downloads a file from the server and measures how long your connection takes to download it. The size of the file will be different according to your line speed.

How accurate is the speed checker?
We have tried to build the speed checker as accurate as possible but there are several factors that can affect the test. The speed checker measures the speed at the time of the test so if your network is running slow at that time then speed checker will report a slow speed. This does not necessarily mean that your internet connection is slow at the other times.

Why do my results differ from other speed tests?
If you’ve tried another speed test and got a different result there are a number of reason why. If you’re comparing test results it’s crucial that you carry out tests at the same time of day, with the same device and at the same distance from your router. The best way to ensure you’re running the same programs is by turning them all off except for the browser you’re using.
The time of day and the amount of traffic being handled by your broadband supplier when the test was being conducted can hugely affect the result. The device you’re using can also have an effect, as does any programs or apps you might have running at the time and your distance from your wireless router.

How long it takes the speed checker to complete?

About 20 seconds.

Recycle Compare

Compare prices across most major mobile phone recycling sites in seconds!

Peoples Phone Recycle is a comparison tool which specialises in providing you with the best price for your mobile phone, tablet or gadget. Simply type the make and model into the search below. We’ll show you the top prices being paid by the UK’s leading recyclers. When you are ready to sell or trade in your mobile, tablet or gadget, click on the company you wish to sell it to. Recycling your gagdets could not be easier!

{tab How it Works |grey}


Search For Your Mobile Phone

Use the search box at the top of the page to search for the mobile phone that you want to sell.

Select The Best Deal And Sell

We compare prices from ALL the top trade-in companies for the mobile phone you want to sell. Choose which company you want to sell your mobile phone to and click to go through to their site.

Post Your Phone For FREE

After you have clicked through to your chosen mobile phone trade-in company fill in your details and follow the instructions to post your device to them.

Get Your Cash In Days!

Once the mobile phone or tablet trade-in company has received and checked your device they will send you payment. Sit back and wait for your cash!


{tab Working & Non Working Items | grey}



Working condition means the item must switch on. It should have no more than mild cosmetic damage (ie, no missing, damaged, or cracked parts), and its original battery. Make sure there are no PIN numbers or security locks on the phone. If possible, restore the factory settings.

As a rule, you don’t usually need to provide accessories that come with your items, such as chargers or cases, but most companies will recycle these properly for you (though you could keep them as a spare or sell them on eBay).

Wipe off any private data and send your gadget fully charged, switched off, without extras like Sim or memory cards.



If the item is broken, it should still be intact and include its battery if it has one.

Most providers will all recycle non-working items, offering a reduced price for these. Expect to get around 50-90% less. If they can’t offer you any money for the broken item, they will recycle them for you (unless you ask for it back).

It’s important to note that if you do decline the offer, you may have to pay to get your item back. Most recycling sites will return it for free, though do check.

Typical damage which might mean you’ll get less cash includes badly damaged casing, a phone locked with a PIN number or an item that won’t turn on. Water-damaged and broken phones with unresponsive or cracked screens will probably get zero cash.


{tab Where is my IMEI Number |grey}



IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity and is a serial number unique to every phone. You will usually find it printed on the back of your phone under the battery. It should be 15 digits long. You can find your phones IMEI number on the backplate of the phone, which is usually under the battery, or, on some phones, you can type *# 06 # into your keypad and your phone will display it’s IMEI number.

The IMEI number could also be referred to as the MEID or ESN number.



1. Tap Settings from the Home screen.

2. Scroll toward the bottom and tap About phone.

3. Tap Status.

4. Scroll down and the IMEI number is listed there.



Getting the information using your device

If you have access to your iOS device, here are some quick ways to obtain your serial number, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), Integrated Circuit Card ID (ICCID), or Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID).

About screen

Tap Settings > General > About to view your serial number, IMEI/MEID and ICCID.

The screen shown is from an iPhone, but the information is also available on iPad and iPod touch.

If you are unable to access the About screen on your device, please use one of the following options to access the serial number and IMEI/MEID on your iOS device. If you are not able to access the information using the About screen, please see the additional information section, below, to get the information from your computer.

iPhone 5

Your IMEI is engraved on the back case, near the bottom. The MEID number uses the first 14 digits, disregarding the last digit.

iPad and iPod touch

Your iPad and iPod touch serial numbers are engraved on the back case toward the bottom, as shown on an iPad below. The MEID and IMEI number (when applicable) are also engraved on the back of the iPad (Wi-Fi + 3G), the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G), and the iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular).

iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM model), and iPhone 4S

Remove the SIM tray. The serial number and IMEI will be printed on the SIM tray.

When an iPhone 4S is activated on a CDMA carrier, the SIM tray displays both the MEID and the IMEI number as 15 digits. The MEID number uses the first 14 digits, disregarding the last digit, and the IMEI number uses all 15 digits.


{tab Other FAQ’s |grey}


How much is my phone worth?

To find out how much your phone is worth just enter the make and model of your phone into the search box and click Search.  Then you’ll see a list off the top mobile phone recycling companies and the prices that they will pay you for your phone. Finally – the most important part of all – there is a link to each mobile phone recycling company site so that you can get straight on and sell your phone to them! Just choose which recycler to sell your phone to and Click their logo or name.


Will I still be able to get cash for my phone if it’s broken or non-working?

Yes! Most all of the phone buyers featured on our site will still pay you for a phone that’s not working. To find out how much your phone is worth just enter the make and model of your phone into the search box.


Is my phone classed as ‘working’ if it works but has a broken screen?
Unfortunately not. Broken screens are expensive to replace. Therefore, the phone will be classed as ‘faulty’.

Is my phone ‘working’ if the battery is flat?
Yes, provided you know that the phone otherwise works then it’s fine to sell as ‘working’. Our recyclers use their own batteries to test phones.

Can I still sell my phone if it has been barred?

No! Phones that have been barred have been reported as stolen to the police: all phones received by the phone recyclers are checked against a national database of stolen phones and if they are found to be stolen they are reported to the police and destroyed.


Do you accept stolen phones?
We don’t like thieves and definitely do not accept stolen phones. Our recyclers check all received phones via CheckMEND, a crime protection database, to ensure that phones are not barred or registered stolen.

Do you accept fake/counterfeit phones?
There is a growing number of counterfeit phones in the UK market. These handsets look very similar to genuine products but are illegally produced and may prove to be dangerous to use. We do not accept any non-genuine products. Popular counterfeit models include the Nokia N95, Nokia Arte, Apple iPhone and Samsung F480 Tocco.

Will I have to pay for postage?

Generally No. Many of the phone buyers we feature on our site offer a Free Postage service. Many will even send you a free postage bag so you don’t even have to package the phone yourself. 

You should also be very careful when you package your item to make sure it is not damaged during transit. If you still have your device’s original packaging, sending it this way is a fantastic way to send it. If you do not have the original packaging, make sure that you cushion your item well so that the device will not move during transit, preferably in a rigid carboard packaging.

You can use bubble wrap, or cardboard wrapped around your phone to cushion it. You should also not send more than two devices containing batteries in the same package.


How will I be paid?

The mobile phone buyers we compare on our site use many different methods of payment. The most common are cheque, bank transfer, PayPal, Postal Order, same day payment and shopping vouchers. Choose the best method to suit you. 

You can either take the cash price or you might prefer shopping vouchers for places like Argos and Marks and Spencer. As you can see several of the phone buyers offer a higher value in vouchers than the cash price.


I sent my mobile to you and I’ve not had my money!

We are mobile phone recycling price comparison site. We do not actually buy the phones ourselves so you would not have sent the phone to us.

The way it works is that you go on to our site and search for your phone then our site compares the prices for that phone from all the different phone buyers so you get the best deal when selling your old mobile. You choose which phone buyer you want to sell your mobile to and then you click through from our site to the phone buyer site to place your order. This means your order is not actually placed with us but direct with the phone buyer and so if you have any query about your order you will need to speak direct to the company you placed the order with.

When you placed your order with the phone buyer you should have received an email confirmation from them with their details and how to contact them. Please get in contact with the customer service department at the company you placed your order with and they will be able to help you.


What happens to my phone after I send it in?

Most of the phones are either sent for reuse in markets such as China, Africa, and India or they are refurbished and sold in the UK. It is environmentally friendly to provide a phone for reuse by someone else. If your phone cannot be resold and reused by someone else because it is broken or badly damaged and is therefore deemed by the phone buyer to be ‘Beyond Economical Repair’ then it is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way so it doesn’t end up in a landfill site.


My phone isn’t in the search engine on the site?

Sorry this means that if a phone is not showing up in the search results then none of the companies are currently offering to buy that model. We recommend that you contact your local council to dispose of any mobile phones of no reuse value.






Virgin Media launches search for communities to receive ultrafast broadband boost

Virgin Media today launched its ‘Supercharging Local Communities’ initiative, the search for local communities to benefit from an ultrafast broadband boost as part of its £3bn network expansion plan across the UK.
Virgin Media today launched its ‘Supercharging Local Communities’ initiative, the search for local communities to benefit from an ultrafast broadband boost as part of its £3bn network expansion plan across the UK.
Homes and businesses within 18 counties across the UK could benefit from an ultrafast optical fibre broadband connection delivered direct to their door, as part of Virgin Media’s Project Lightning network expansion. Virgin Media is calling upon residents and businesses to influence the decision on where to begin, by registering interest at
For local residents, Virgin Media’s Vivid 200 broadband is the best way to experience the internet – with download speeds of up to 200Mbps. This is more than two and a half times faster than the top widely available speeds from BT, TalkTalk and Sky meaning that a whole household can stream movies, music and more all at the same time.
For local businesses, Virgin Media Business now offers ultrafast connectivity as standard, with speeds of up to 300Mbps –almost four times faster than its main competitors’ widely available top speeds. This enables businesses to reach their potential by delivering better services and greater capacity.
Virgin Media’s optical fibre broadband also uses a unique technology called DOCSIS® 3. The use of this technology together with fibre cable connected directly to the customer’s property means it can deliver faster, more reliable broadband to homes and businesses.
Paul Buttery, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media said: “Expanding our network to communities in across 18 UK counties shows that ultrafast broadband isn’t just for the big cities, we are dedicated to investing and delivering connectivity across the UK. Better broadband brings huge benefits for people and businesses. You can now help to bring ultrafast internet access to your home or business by registering today at Cablemystreet.”
This expansion uses an innovative way of bringing ultrafast broadband to people’s homes with minimal disruption. The approach, called narrow-trenching, reduces the width of the trench used to lay optical fibre cables from around 40cm to just 10cm and enables engineers to cover up to 100m in a day, making it more than twice as fast as current methods. The residents will receive the very latest broadband technology with fibre delivered direct to the home. A similar technique has been used recently in Leicester where Virgin Media has started to connect six villages.
The 18 counties are: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Glamorgan, Hampshire, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Renfrewshire, Rhondda, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Lothian, West Yorkshire, Worcestershire.

Ofcom tells BT to open up cable network to rivals

bt openreach van peoples phone

Communications watchdog Ofcom has said BT must open up its cable network and allow competition to improve UK internet connections.
The regulator has so far stopped short of demanding a complete break-up of BT, but said this was still an option. BT welcomed the report and said it was happy to let other companies use its network, if they were keen to invest.
Ofcom also said there was a digital divide in the UK between those with the latest technologies, and those without. It has proposed that decent, affordable broadband should be a universal right.
Rivals had called for a split between BT and its Openreach operation, which runs its cables, fibre and network infrastructure. Companies such as Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk, who pay to use the network, say that BT underinvested in Openreach, leading to a poor service with interruptions and slow speeds.
Now BT will be told to allow easier access for rivals to lay their own fibre cables along Openreach’s telegraph poles and in its underground cable ducts.
Ofcom also says it intends to introduce tougher rules on BT’s faults, repairs and installations. It says Openreach should be governed at arm’s length from BT, with greater independence in taking its own decisions on budget, investment and strategy. It adds that a complete split between Openreach and BT “remains an option”.
The Chief Executive of Ofcom, Sharon White said: “Openreach does need major reform and the key thing is that it’s independent so that it responds to all its customers, not just BT. If we cannot get the responsiveness to customers that we’re seeking, then … we reserve the right, formally, to separate [BT and Openreach].”
BT’s shares rose 2.6% in the two hours following the publication of the report. A BT spokesman said: “Openreach is already one of the most heavily regulated businesses in the world but we have volunteered to accept tighter regulation. “We are happy to let other companies use our ducts and poles if they are genuinely keen to invest very large sums as we have done. But Ofcom’s report says that the evidence “shows Openreach still has an incentive to make decisions in the interests of BT, rather than BT’s competitors”.
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: “BT still remains a monopoly provider with a regulated business running at a 28% profit margin. “We urge Ofcom to ensure BT reinvests the £4bn in excess profits Openreach has generated over the last decade in bringing fibre to millions of premises across the country, and not just make half-promises to spend an unsubstantiated amount on more old copper cable”
BT’s Openreach division is the biggest force in British broadband – and critics say it’s not used that power to good effect. The likes of TalkTalk and Sky, which rely on Openreach to connect most of their customers, charge it with poor service and failing to invest enough in the fast fibre network Britain needs. Ofcom’s report shows that it shares many of their concerns – but it’s stopped short of the radical action they wanted. BT will not be forced to sell Openreach in the short term – though that threat remains in the regulator’s back pocket if it doesn’t see the changes it wants.
Much of the criticism of BT has centred on its continued reliance on old copper cables to carry fast broadband connections into homes from its fibre network – rather than laying fibre right into homes. Ofcom’s Sharon White told me “fibre is the future” – and compared the UK unfavourably with countries like Japan in hooking up homes and businesses to ultrafast connections.
BT must be in two minds about the report – relieved that what it sees as the massive disruption of a break-up isn’t imminent, but concerned that the regulator will be on its back for years demanding more co-operation and greater investment.
Customers will simply want to know when they will get faster connections and a better service. Ofcom itself will be in the firing line if that doesn’t happen soon. Telecoms consultancy CCS insight said: “The news will be a relief for BT, but rivals will also claim victory as Openreach remains under severe scrutiny. “The tone of the statement reflects concern about BT’s role in the UK’s broadband future. Opening the network offers opportunities for competitors; new minimum standards will ensure customer service stays in the spotlight.”
The report also says the surge in data speeds has led to a “digital divide” between those who have the fastest internet access and those who are left behind. It says: “As the world goes increasingly online, those left behind risk social and economic exclusion. We have found that people who are left behind are usually less well-off or living in vulnerable circumstances.”
“2.4 million households and small businesses (around 8% of all UK premises) cannot yet access a decent broadband speed of 10Mbits per second,” the report said.
The report, Making Communications Work for Everyone, says: “We will work with the UK Government to make decent, affordable broadband a universal right for every home and small business in the UK. The universal right should start off at 10Mbits per second for everyone, and then rise in line with customer demand over time.”