Why use a provider other than BT?

There are 2 companies in the UK that own and operate a network of cables and buildings throughout the country that connect homes and businesses to the telephone and internet networks. These are Openreach (formerly BT Openreach, BTOR) and Virgin Media (formerly Cable & Wireless, Diamond Cable, NTL).

Virgin Media have their own network and sell their services directly to their customers.

Openreach are a separate company within the BT group of companies; Openreach do not sell any products or services directly to end-user customers (business, residential or otherwise). Instead, they provide services for over 500 Communications Providers (CPs). It is these Communications Providers who deal directly with customers.

An order for a telephone line, broadband or internet connection placed with any of the Communications Providers, other than Virgin Media, will be implemented by an engineer from Openreach, regardless of which Communications Provider the order is placed with.

We are sometimes asked why it is worthwhile using one of the over 500 Communications Providers instead of using BT Retail or BT Business, as, the question goes, surely the Communications Providers are buying services from BT, so why not go directly to BT and miss out the extra step of the Communications Provider? The answer is that there is a misunderstanding of how BT is structured and how services are provided.

BT Retail and BT Business are themselves Communications Providers and buy the services they sell from Openreach, just the same as all the other Communications Providers. Whether you buy services from BT Retail or BT Business, or from any of the other Communications Providers, the services are provided by Openreach.

The other non-BT Communications Providers do not buy from the BT Retail or BT Business divisions and thus introduce an extra step; they buy from the same company – Openreach – as the BT-branded Communications Providers. There is no extra step when using a non-BT-branded Communications Provider.