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Alison Ritchie, the chief exec of BTopenworld, is to become BT's broadband supremo responsible for driving BT Group's whole broadband strategy.

As BT's first chief broadband officer, Ms Ritchie will direct the company's policy on broadband across the whole of BT Group (including BT Wholesale, BT Retail and BTopenworld) in a bid to develop a "co-ordinated approach" to the dominant telco's delivery of high speed Internet services.

BT chief exec, Ben Verwaayen, described the appointment as a move that "underlines just how central broadband is to BT".

However, the appointment has been criticised by some in the industry as further evidence of BT trying to tighten its grip on a sizeable chunk of the broadband market in the UK.

A spokesman for AOL UK said that the appointment "blurred the regulatory lines", since the different groups within BT are supposed to operate at arm's length.

However, BT insists Ms Ritchie will not be involved in any pricing or marketing issues that might compromise her role.

Underlining her impartiality, Ms Ritchie is handing over the day to day running of BT Openworld for regulatory reasons to John Butler, currently director of new services and strategy.

Still, the move does at least provide some good news for consumers. With a boss specifically responsible for all of BT's broadband initiatives, there's now someone to complain to when things go wrong. ®

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