BT's Patterson threatens lawsuits to 'defend' shareholders if Ofcom forces it to sell Openreach

BT (NYSE: BT) CEO Gavin Patterson says that if Ofcom, the UK's telecom regulator, forces it to sell off its wholesale Openreach division, BT would respond by halting new network investments and launching a number of legal challenges against the regulator.

Gavin Patterson, BT

Patterson (Source: BT)

"This is a commercial enterprise and if there's uncertainty we will defend the rights of our shareholders, undoubtedly," Patterson said in an interview with The Telegraph. "It puts that investment very much at risk. At the end of it, and if we're meant to be looking at the next ten years, what do you want to look back on? Do you want to look back at 10 years of litigation and arguments?" 

A number of BT's competitors such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone, who purchase wholesale access from Openreach, have been pushing hard for BT to sell the unit. These companies claim that Openreach provides poor service and the revenue Openreach generates gives BT an "unfair advantage" over other providers.

Patterson shot back at these providers, accusing them of "quite staggering hypocrisy" after all of them pushed hard for lower prices versus investing in the last mile network each provider uses to deliver services to their customers.

In related news, BT held a briefing for ISPs on the network about its planned NGA2 trials, which will test out G.Fast technology and an improved Fiber on Demand product with new processes aimed at lowering costs. BT announced three locations for the trials, including the Huntingdon area, one that Openreach said will be contacting people about in the next few weeks.

For more:
- Sunday Telegraph has this article
- The Register has this article

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