back to article BT trying for fibre 'monopoly', claims TalkTalk chief

TalkTalk's commercial boss David Goldie has claimed that BT is trying to regain "the monopoly position that it lost many years ago" courtesy of its provision of fibre optic broadband. In an interview with the Observer, Goldie complained that BT was yet to reveal its duct and telegraph pole interim pricing structure for other …


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  1. JDX Gold badge


    When TalkTalk tried to convince me not to switch to BT, they told me they would have fibre services themselves very soon.

  2. Bo Pedersen

    Well I would have been on Talk Talk fibre if they hadn't been so difficult with me when I rang

    Currently a Pipex customer (already moved to talk talk's network) I rang them up when the website said Fibre was now available for upgrade

    After passing me between Pipex and Talk Talk upgrade departments a few times, they decided they would have to put in a new line, (some excuse about an incompatible line package) and then they had the nerve to tell me I must be a customer with them 3 months before being eligible to take the fibre upgrade.

    Needless to say I signed up with BT, it goes in on Friday....wish me luck :)

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      It's true, Talk is cheap

      Well if you think Talk Talk were difficult to deal with now, wait till you are dealing with a call centre in the Philippines staffed by people on a subsistence wage.

      1. Tony Humphreys

        Ones own medicine

        Interesting article, a side point that stands out is the Irish bitching about jobs being taken by other countries luring companies with low tax?

        Good plan, worked a treat for Ireland in the 90's - look how well they are getting on.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why should anyone be surpised? Ofcom is eating out of BTs hands and they wont do anything.

    Which tree are TT and others barking up to?

  4. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    All Talk Talk and no action

    Well, put your own blody cables in - you were happy to use LLU but so damned quiet about the lack of your own infrastucture. Happy to ride on the back of what we paid for and what BT put in after privatisation. Happy to take over Tiscali and do absolutley fuck all about the lack of customer service. Why not slag of Virgin for not doing LLU on thier kit?

    A massive fail but more WTF?

  5. Sam Liddicott


    When will virgin fibre service offer more than 1Mb/s upstream?

    BeThere offer more than twice that with their ADSL service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They will start offering faster speed about 3months ago.

      I currently get 3Mb/sec upstream on a VM 30Meg connection (the exact figures according to speed test were 31145kbps down, 3106kbps up) .

    2. Mike007

      ages ago...? the lowest package they offer has 1Mbit upload, but the higher packages go up from there - it's still only 10% of the download speed, but 10Mbit upload is way faster than anything BE can offer, hell most ADSL2 customers can't even get 10Mbit down let alone up!

      Although there is no virgin fibre service, their "fibre optic broadband" is just as fibre optic as ADSL, it's a fibre backbone with copper to the customer. Their "unlimited" is also not quite unlimited on the bottom packages, however their throttling system is a lot closer to it than most ISPs "unlimited" packages.

    3. Select * From Handle

      Re: Virgin?

      my VM has 10meg upstream....

  6. Select * From Handle

    It can try but

    Virgin Media is 100x better imo! i have had VM 100meg now for half a year with huge bandwidth, great ping for gameing and an awesome Tivo service. dont see why i would opt for BT....

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Same, I'm on 50MB and it's better than BT ever was for me. Uptime is not far off 100%.

      But the downside is if Virgin went downhill (and some seem to dislike them) you can't then switch to another operator.

      The way forward is for BT not to own the phone infrastructure and for Virgin not to own the cable infrastructure.

      But even then you have the situation (like Network Rail or Transco) where there is only one provider of the infrastructure. We need three or so good ways to deliver the Internet.

  7. SJRulez

    Been talk talk customer for 4years, never had a need to ring them at all. Only ever had one fault which was due to some stupid BT engineer disconnecting my line at the exchange.

    BT really annoy me though with these statements

    "We've also volunteered to provide additional forms of wholesale access via our ducts and poles." they arent BT's ducts and poles, BT inherited them from the tax payer and though their lack of investment we now have one of the worst Broandband networks in the world.

    1. My Alter Ego

      I was the same, until I wanted to leave. Once you need to talk to them you *will* wish death on them.

      It took our company 14 months to get money back from them after they continued billing us. It took complaints to Ofcom & Otelo to get it sorted. After the issues was "resolved" then they restarted the cancelled direct debit again. Funnily enough they couldn't provide the mandate to our bank when requested. We very nearly called Thames Valley police in the, however I now have the name, number & email address of a very helpful lady from the chief exec's office.

      The only way to deal with them is cancel your direct debit the moment your request a MAC. That way it's them chasing you for money, rather than the other way round.

    2. Test Man
      Thumb Down

      They inherited them?

      Then it's theirs, obviously, just like your car is yours when you buy it from someone else who owned it previously. The ducts and poles aren't the taxpayers now, are they? They were sold to British Telecom, along with everything else.

      1. Chris007

        no they were given to BT as part of the privatisation - they were not sold to BT and the taxpayers who had funded building them over 80 years received no financial benefit.

        1. Alex Rose

          Back to school time?

          Seriously guys, they were not "given to BT as part of the privatisation."

          1. The Post Office/BT owned the poles and cables, the country owned the PO/BT.

          2. The government sold the country's stake (i.e. 100%) in the PO/BT and put the money into the public coffers.

          3. The pole and cables STILL belong to BT but BT is now no longer owned by the country.

          It's really simple to understand if you actually pay attention at school. If you have to expend all your cranial capacity to simply continue breathing through your mouth then I guess such a complicated idea would be beyond you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You are missing the point

            The country was not paid back the amount of money it would cost to put the ducting for the fiber and copper as well as the poles in place. This is the key difference from Virgin/NTL/Telewest which has put its network in the ground with investor money going bankrupt several times in the process.

            BT's dillema is one of the big problems in being a privatized utility (in any country). If it takes the position you recommend and draws a line in the sand there will be an immediate question on "how much exactly did you pay for this?". In addition to that there will be a question of "how much exactly did you benefit from paying less than the market price?".

            In some countries (roughly half of Eastern Europe and an occasional Western country) the incumbents decided to face these questions and draw a line in the sand. On the positive side - they no longer have to offer hideous regulator required legacy compatibility going back to granny's 1960 phone available in grey and grey. They also operate using reasonable margins, they are aggressive and invade new markets and they show good growth in a lot of segments. On the negative side the companies that did that usually have market share under 30% because they naturally surrender the 70% that do not decent profit.

            Quite clearly BT management has chosen the "safe option" and prefers to retain big market share and be the old familiar monopoly operating a measly margin and lukewarm market performance. So unless it changes direction and becomes a "wolf" it will still be possible for anyone (TT included) to winge about poles, ducts, etc.

            1. Alex Rose

              Does my HP Touchpad not belong to me?

              Just because HP was not paid back the amount of money it cost to produce does that mean that it's not legally mine?

              It's not BT's shareholder's fault that the government of the time did not achieve maximum return on its investment. If it offends you that much then vote for a political party that will return it to public ownership.

              There is no dilemma in my mind, if asked "how much exactly did you pay for this" the shareholders could quite reasonably answer "the amount that we were asked to pay, what's your point?"

        2. elaar


          Tax Payers received a major benefit, the offloading of an unmanageable pension debt that is close to crippling BT. The largest in the private sector thanks to the governments inability to ever manage pensions. 9 BIllion in deficit at the beginning of this year.

          Now explain why they should let everyone share their infrastructure.

        3. Naughtyhorse
          Thumb Down


          no financial benefit?

          what about all the money raised from the share issue.

          true it was spaffed away on tax cuts for the rich

          and true the company was heinously undervalued to ensure a successful issue.

          but you need to speak to thatch about both them issues

          nowt to do with bt

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Yup. That was nearly thirty years ago and since then BT have sunk far more money into the network infrastructure than the previous owners ever did. They took over a network that was creaking at the seams, barely up to the job and expensive. They have provided one of the best telephone networks in the world at rock bottom prices /and/ rolled residential data services out to in excess of 99% of the population. They might not offer the fastest internet available but you've got to be damn' unlucky not to at least have half a meg. There's not many countries where you can safely assume your new house will have broadband.

        But some people just won't let things go. I bet there'll still be someone bleating about how BT were gifted their network in a hundred year's time :-/

        But going back to the article itself - yeah BT are dragging their feet and their prices sound dubious. Then again TT and the other LLUOs have never shown serious signs of wanting to invest. They have always cherry picked exchanges and I'll believe TT's desire to roll out a last mile network when I see it.

      3. stuff and nonesense

        They were gifted to BT with the privatisation. Joe public paid for them. BT enjoyed a near monopoly position, fleeced us with ISDN and screwed up the ADSL roll outs with customer requirement levels attached to each exchange.

        In 1999ish I had a project that needed DSL speeds (256k to 500k) and called BT to find out whether there was any plan to install DSL in the region I was working (Berkshire). The comms guy on the other end of the phone said "What's ADSL?"

        BT Openreach MUST be fully removed from BT retail. Until that day there will always be bias in the favour of BT retail.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          > and screwed up the ADSL roll outs with customer requirement levels attached to each exchange.

          And what would you prefer them to do? Pick exchanges randomly in the hope that the unpredictable income from the resulting roll-out would cover their costs? Or perhaps you prefer a nationalised industry approach where everyone gets the same second-rate service and pays twice as much for it through their taxes?

          BT did what any sensible company would do. They started with the most lucrative exchanges and worked their way down. Their registration system wasn't perfect but at least they tried to gauge demand. Gawd only knows what criteria a public sector company would have used.

          I'm also pretty sure that PO employees either weren't told or didn't listen to what company management had planned. In fact since they were public sector employees it's pretty much a certainty that they'd be unable to answer any question you posed to them.

  8. I understand now

    perhaps this is why other ISP's are slow offering FTTC?

    1. Test Man
      Thumb Up


      They might not like BT Wholesale's prices and are waiting to see if this Fujitsu consortium can come up with something better, if they actually get to set up the fibre network at all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have BT Fibre

    and it is superb, don't understand why you are all sulking!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Probably because if there is any company that has held back broadband development in the UK it is BT. ADSL could have been launched about 2-3 years before it was. People I know were trialling cable modems in the mid to late 1990s, it took until 2001 until BT rolled out ADSL.

      Not to mention:

      Paying £45+ a quarter for the 'privilege' of receiving their service.

      Paying increasing phone call costs when everyone else is largely free now.

      Vastly inflated installation charge for extra lines (£120+) and so on.

      If everyone was on BT it would be like everyone being on Windows. There would be no competition, prices would be high and there would be no innovation.

      When I first got online the quarterly phone bill would be hundreds of pounds. It wasn't BT that gave me free unmetered Internet, I had to move to the Tempo funded Screaming Net. So BT have never been a successful innovator in telecoms. Just good at ripping off consumers who have no choice other than BT.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Maybe you should try reading the article. You might understand enough then to post a reply that doesn't make you look like a tool.

  10. C 6


    We are due to get BT fibre in our area, although it's already 4 months late. I will now be able to use up our 30GB allowance in a couple of hours, rather than a day.

    Last month we ended up using our allowance early as one of the kids had unwittingly been watching YouTube clips on HD or 480 and it was only by seeing an hour by hour breakdown that I realised where the bandwidth had gone.

    Internet services are effectively crippled whilst BT are in charge. How come other providers can offer "unlimited" via their LLU at lesser cost than BT resellers can offer 30GB?

    1. Test Man


      ... BT (Wholesale) set the prices. They are the ones (well BT Openreach) that have to maintain the network. LLU is (probably) cheaper because it's the specific ISP that is paying to maintain the network - which may or may not be a good thing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The norm

    BT will attempt to monopolise this until OFCOM decide to slap them on the wrist and tell them to stop..

    This is what happened when a friend of mine reported them for capping orders for every isp apart from Openworld back in 2001!

  12. trachycarpus

    Does Virgin allow BT to use their fibre?

    1. Test Man


      They don't let anyone use their infrastructure at all.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons


        The operative word is 'their infrastructure'. Unlike BT, Virgin Media infrastructure's history is quite clear - it was put in by a variety of previous cable companies (Telewest, NTL and others) and gradually collected together through mergers and acquisitions (many of the companies nearly went broke putting this stuff in). In that sense, they have the right to decide what they want to do with the cable infrastructure.

        BT's case is much more murky. Yes, they own it, but by virtue of the privatisation. The various mechanisms surrounding how it is operated and administered (including soft as sh*t OFCOM) gives BT a great deal of wiggle room that they have have become adept at using.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VM may be bad but at least they're not the worst!

    After seeing how childish BT and Sky broadband departments became when I had a problem, I paid a few more quid and got a 20Mb line with Virgin. It's about £2 dearer than I was paying with BT/Sky but I've only had about an hour of downtime in 10 months with VM as opposed to an hour a week with BT's crappy ADSL lines. The cheeky buggers at BT tried to sell me their Inifinity crap 2 months ago. "We can offer you up to 22Mb/s sir!", my reply was "Well VM can offer me up to 100Mb in my area, I have no need for that much but it's nice to know it's available and darn sight more reliable that your lot. Thanks and bye bye."

  14. Mark 65 Silver badge

    This is where I feel the concept of the Australian national broadband network is a better approach. Having the infrastructure centrally owned and provisioned for all on an equal access basis is a far better way to go. Admittedly how the "ownership" part is handled remains to be seen, as nobody would want the meddling hands of politicians at the wheel after it's built, but a not for profit organisation with an established visible mandate should cover it.

    The idea of equal access to BTs conduits and poles seems ridiculous. I can just envisage too many cables getting shoved together in places like London and fuck-all elsewhere. I await the news stories of company X installing fibre busts the cables of companies A, B, and C.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      More likely...

      Company A installing fibres on behalf of company X, into ducts it owns, busts the cables of companies B, C, D and E, but miraculously leaves cables of company A unharmed, then proceeds to do nothing to fix the problem for a fortnight, insisting it is down to a problem with companies B, C, D, E and X and nothing to do with them. Company A then proceeds to advertise better up-time than companies B, C, D, E and X whilst spying on its customers and havily profiling their traffic.

      Of course, all companies mentioned are fictional and any resemblance to real companies, living or dead, is purely conincidental.

    2. Test Man

      Good points.

      Won't happen here, seeing as the government privatised it all.

    3. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      back in the old days . . .

      I seem to remember back in distant times when all the cable problems were about to be solved as world+dog were to install fibre everywhere. Railtrack, Gas board, Leccy company (or whatever they were caled that particular week) all wetting themselves at the thought of being major natoinal data carriers.

      What happend there?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Good question.

        Shortly after BT went private it offered to do FTTP to every premise. Sadly Thatcher decided she could make more money through cable franchises and that's how VM's little empire was born.

        Mind you - I question how sincere BT really was. At the time though they did have the money and might - just - have had the inclination if they were allowed to become a broadcaster. We'll never know :(

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          FTTP from BT in the 1980s

          Suppose BT did roll out cable everywhere in the 1980s. Can you imagine the state that network would be in today? The fuckers wouldn't have spent a penny on it since. They would probably have pissed away all the bandwidth on 100 or so channels of analogue TV and there'd be no capacity for Internet access. Remember too that when the Mad Cow was in power nobody at BT could even spell TCP/IP.

          Oh and she strangled cable from the outset so Rupert could clean up with his satellite dishes.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      We had one of those once..

      ..a government owned network that is. It was an underfunded pile of crap. If BT hadn't been formed gawd knows where we'd be right now. Probably in the middle of an ADSL roll-out if we were lucky. I fail to see how anyone young enough to remember what telephones were like before the 80s could possibly think that handing control of the network back to the government could be a good idea.

      Then again I fail to see how anyone old enough to vote could think handing control of /anything/ to the government was a good idea. Are you really saying you think the government's track record on IT projects makes that sound like a good idea? Or its track record on /any/ project for that matter?

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge


        The Aussie plan is a Government owned network after the previous Government owned network was privatised in the Telstra sell-off. The telecoms over here is a precise copy of the UK example. The incumbent owns all of the infrastructure, offers shit service, high prices, and doesn't play nicely with the other children. As part of the deal I believe the tax payer is effectively buying back the copper loop and gaining access (not ownership) to the conduits for around $11bn. They have also agreed to transfer their customers from cable internet over to the NBN (as it's known). I don't believe I was asked, but there you go. They still haven't separated wholesale from retail in the business like BT was forced to, but that's because regulation with regards consumer interest is piss-weak here.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Should swing both ways.... BT open up their infrastructure (and they should), so should everyone else. I don't want to hear others moaning, unless they are willing to match.

  16. Neil Alexander
    Thumb Down

    Frankly it's stupid that people think that ISPs have a god-given right to access BT and Virgin Media's networks. BT inherited their infrastructure, so it belongs to them. Virgin spent a lot of money building their network, so it belongs to them. Both BT and Virgin spend a very significant amount of money deploying fibre and other network improvements, but hold on, we don't see TalkTalk or Sky footing any of the bill. Instead they just complain about having to even pay wholesale charges which, considering the amount of money BT and Virgin spend on upgrades, isn't actually that much. TalkTalk and other companies can piss off acting hard done by just because they don't want to put their own fingers out and deploy infrastructure themselves.

    It's no different to spectrum auctions for 3G - which company can cry the loudest?

    1. stuff and nonesense

      "we don't see TalkTalk or Sky footing any of the bill"

      BT Retail, Sky, Talk Talk et al pay BT Openreach for the services used.

      There is an effective seperation of BT Retail and BT Openreach mandated by Ofcom to allow a "level playing field".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    also weird

    Talk Talk have been pestering us to switch to their "Fibre" solution as well, so they must have access.

    This would appear to be news to BT mind you, as is the fact our street can now get FTTC. Their stupid website refuses to recognise our house, leaving a single house sized gap in their list of houses on our street. So i have to pretend to be my neghbour.

    And up until very recently, BT couldn't even say when we were getting FTTC, despite the fact we've had a green cabinet for months. But hey presto, now we have FFTC. Had to find out from Talk Talk though!!

    And it didn't do then much good, I signed up for PlusNet fibre instead

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Q. Who owns Plusnet?

      A. BT.

    2. Skoorb

      It is BT

      Rather interestingly Plusnet *is* BT.

      See the logo at or just have a gander at

      1. Chad H.


        That supposedly "Honest Broadband from Yorkshire" is anything but. Well, I'll give them "Broadband"... One from three isnt terrible I suppose.

  18. b166er

    Indeed Neil,

    TalkTalk are advertising basic broadband for £3.25 a month.

    How the fuck can they manage that?

    I suggest they get out there and pull some fucking cable.

    Not that I think for 1 minute, Ofcom shouldn't grow a pair and bust BT in the chops.

    Lithuania 33Mbps

    S. Korea 29Mbps

    Sweden 25Mbps

    Latvia 25Mbps

    Romania 24Mbps

    Netherlands 23Mbps

    Bulgaria 20Mbps

    Switzerland 19Mbps

    Taiwan 17Mbps

    Japan 17Mbps

    UK 10Mbps

    Global Average 9Mbps


    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      "TalkTalk are advertising basic broadband for £3.25 a month.

      "How the f*** can they manage that?"

      By not actually providing anything in return for the £3.25 per month. In any case I think you have to buy other services from them to get that deal.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Do fibre, for existing customers, where available - ie everywhere BT Infinty is. End of.

    How do I know? 'Cos I'm on it now :)

    /smug look/

  20. Stu_The_Jock

    fibre ? good idea

    The only problem I see with UK providers rolling out fibre is their insistance on overselling their capacity so much that they have to introduce "stupid levels" of fair use policies. I have an old laptop I use for downloads on my nice norwegian FTTP service (entry level on our TV/phone/web package is 40Mb each way and NOT "up to 40Mb" true 40Mb) and last time I rebooted the laptop (after maybe 15 days constant running) it was reading 95GB downloaded and 187GB uploaded, this is NOT uncommon and never hear a peep from the provider.

  21. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down


    No-one is stopping talktalk getting a licence and digging up streets and pulling fibre.

    Get on with, don't try and freeload on other people's ducts and then call them names

    1. Jim Morrow

      digging up the street

      You'll just have one electrictiy and gas feed to your house. Why should it be any different for phone lines or fibre?

      Digging up the street to pull fibre is cheap. The expensive thing is getting wayleaves from all the landowners where you want to run cables. Their permission is needed to allow packets to move across their land. BT's already got those rights. It has mostly inherited them from the time when the Post Office ran the nation's phone system. This means BT can fuck about and make life difficult for competitors unless Ofcom stop them.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jim Morrow

    'Digging up the street to pull fibre is cheap. The expensive thing is getting wayleaves from all the landowners where you want to run cables. Their permission is needed to allow packets to move across their land. BT's already got those rights. It has mostly inherited them from the time when the Post Office ran the nation's phone system. This means BT can fuck about and make life difficult for competitors unless Ofcom stop them.'

    What a load of tosh ! Do you think the cablecos that eventually became Virgin had to deal with that? Laws were changed specifically to allow cheap and easy roll out (so that there was a competitor to BT). Turned out not quite as cheap as Maggie expected hence VM's debt mountain. Anyway the bitching is about access to existing ducting/poles, less need for digging. You simply (simple ?) blow fibre along existing ducts, then install street cabs/dslams, then install kit at the exchange. I suspect TalkTalk is doing just that, TalkTalking with no intention of investing.

  23. Chad H.

    More than happy for talktalk to prevent this monopoly...

    Get laying cables boys.

    I'll have the flying pigs ready.

  24. Adam Trickett

    It's all due to a bad and old business design

    When BT was privatised it was a stupid design, creating a private monopoly. BT has never played fair with anyone and constantly needs regulating to make it play at all. The only logical solution is and always has been to break up BT into an infrastructure company that puts wires and fibre in and a retail business that sells a service.

    When the cable monopolies were created, the same mistake was made, now we have one company Virgin that has the same strangle hold that BT has. Again separate companies should have been created.

    It is clearly commercial suicide for any company to try and cable up the UK. Which is why the tax payer paid for BT (then the GPO) to do it and why all the cable firms went bust. You can't blame TalkTalk for not doing this.

    Personally I'd separate Virgin and BT into infrastructure companies forbidden from selling their service directly, and retail operations. Then TalkTalk and anyone else can buy the last mile directly from either infrastructure company that want and there is no longer a conflict from BT or Virgin.

    Obviously this isn't going to happen and BT and Virgin will continue to exercise their monopolies and exclude competition. Ofcom are essentially powerless to do anything about this - as the many stories on this and other sites demonstrate.....

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