BT rapped on knuckles by watchdog

Ofcom is to fine BT for its broadband service unless drastic improvements are made.

The watchdog has released a report in which it states that the internet service provider will be fined unless it provides or repairs broadband services in a timely manner, according to internet reports.

It was Openreach, a company created by BT to allow access to its broadband infrastructure by other internet providers, which was targeted for most criticism.

According to the report, ISPs have been lodging complaints that Openreach is failing to provide an adequate service, especially when it comes to repairs on broadband lines.

Ofcom has proposed that Openreach will be fined if it fails to meet agreed performance targets to solve the reported problems.

The fines will be paid to the ISPs, including BT's own retail division.

ISPs will not have to fill out forms to receive compensation, the watchdog adds, and there will be "no upper limit to the amount which must be paid" if the complaints continue.

The proposals could also affect customers and Ofcom is championing a system whereby Openreach will have to "pay out [to customers] every time service or quality falls below the contractual threshold instead of paying out against performance stated as an average over time".

The report isn't all negative, however, as Ofcom does recognise the progress that BT has made in allowing other competitors into the UK broadband market - an undertaking set out in 2005 by the two organisations. But it adds that further improvements could be made.

In an interview in response, BT was bullish, stating that many of the proposals are old-hat. A spokesperson told PC Pro: "This is a document which is recognition of the progress we've made so far. Everything outlined in the document is very similar to what we're already doing".

Ofcom is now holding a consultation on the proposals, for which the deadline for responses is 25th January.