Nov 20, 2019

Labour’s BT plan spooks broadband entrepreneurs

Richard Tang was on holiday in Patagonia when news reached him of the Labour party's plan to nationalise BT's Openreach and make broadband a free service. Steve Leighton, chief executive of rural broadband company Voneus, said the company's internal WhatsApp groups "Caught fire" last weekend, with anxious workers asking whether they should start looking for new jobs or whether they would be acquired by Labour's "Broadband behemoth". Mr Glover said Air Broadband, a tiny consumer-facing telecoms company he runs, would "Disappear" in a blanket shakeout at the small end of the market if Labour follows through with its plan. His Southampton-based company makes annual revenues of £1.5m selling highly secure and reliable connectivity to small hedge funds, trading platforms and private equity companies whose needs would not be met with free basic broadband. While many small telecoms companies told the Financial Times the Labour plan was so fanciful they had dismissed it out of hand, Mr Leighton was cautious about ignoring the threat.

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