To avoid internet speeds in Britain falling behind countries like Lithuania, BT should be exposed to more competition, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD), an organisation representing individual company directors. Lithuania has ultrafast fibre optic networks across more than a third of its country. In the UK, however, only around one in 50 homes and businesses have access to such ultrafast internet, according to communications regulator Ofcom.
BT's claims that its rivals were not interested in investing in the country's broadband infrastructure were criticised by IoD as "disingenuous". It called on the government to up BT's targets with regards to the upgradation of infrastructure.
Dan Lewis, author of a report on the state of British broadband for IoD, said "We feel very strongly there needs to be more infrastructure competition for BT. I do think BT is being disingenuous when it says nobody has used the existing duct access measures. It costs three times as much as it does in Spain."
This follows Ofcom saying last week that it would force BT to share its ducts and poles so that its rivals can build their own broadband networks cheaply. IoD was one of the organisations that had earlier called on Ofcom to ensure that BT splits from its Openreach division, the national broadband network, in an effort to improve internet speeds in the UK.
To avoid this split, BT chief executive Gavin Patterson had revealed that his company was willing to spend more money in improving Britain's internet. This was in addition to the £1bn (€1.27bn, $1.39bn) that it had pledged earlier. While last week, BT escaped a forced spin-off of Openreach, Ofcom announced tighter regulation for the business. It also added it reserves the right to require a break-up in the future.
About 75% of IoD members agreed that their company's productivity would increase if the country saw a significant increase in broadband speeds. The 2030 target for internet speeds set by Lewis' report is 10 gigabits per second. This is 1,000 times faster than the current nationwide minimum target of 10 megabits by 2020.