Ofcom's potential plans to separate BT from its Openreach broadband engineering division have been met with scepticism by the government's digital economy minister.
Ed Vaizey told the Financial Times that he is "a sceptic" of the plans being touted by the regulator, which have been supported by Sky and TalkTalk, two of BT's main rivals.
"I think full separation would be an enormous undertaking, incredibly time-consuming [and could have] lots of potential to backfire," he said. "Ofcom is looking at it, I am a sceptic, but we will have to see what Ofcom comes out with."
Vaizey explained that the government will support the results of Ofcom's decennial telecoms review that includes determining the future of BT in relation to competition, innovation and investment in the UK's broadband, landline and mobile markets.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White said at the consultation's launch that the review is about ensuring people receive the best possible communications services across the UK.
"Our priorities are clear. We want to promote competition, investment and innovation, so that everyone benefits from even better coverage, choice, price and quality of service in the years to come," she said.
A significant part of Ofcom's review includes looking at Openreach's delivery of the broadband infrastructure relied on by many of the UK's telecoms and broadband suppliers.
However, a poor history of line installations and repairs has seen Openreach come under fire, and the likes of Sky and TalkTalk have campaigned for the separation of BT and Openreach, claiming that BT does not currently run its infrastructure arm in a way that improves broadband networks.
But Vaizey challenged this view. "If broadband is so terrible, why are we the leading e-commerce nation in the world?" he asked.
As expected, BT has reiterated that the company is part of a healthy telecoms market in the UK, and that trialling G.fast broadband technology shows that it is pushing network innovation.
Vaizey also said that he considers the current state of the telecoms market to be acceptable, despite consolidation of the major telecoms companies after the BT/EE and Three/O2 deals.
"There is a balance to be struck. Competition is a good thing, but we have seen how a lack of capacity to invest can affect networks. If we felt there was too much consolidation we would look at consumer-friendly regulations," the minister said.
The topic of splitting BT from Openreach has prompted debate in the telecoms world, with Sky and BT clashing over the future of Openreach.
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