BT remains defiant after Oftel ruling

The battered telco argues 'If there's no space, there's no space..." and in march the inspectors

Responding to Thursday's surprise announcement by telecoms watchdog Oftel, BT (quote: BT) offers concessions but remains defiant.

Oftel's move was prompted by industry calls to settle the dispute over whether BT is being honest about the amount of space it has available for competitors in its exchanges. BT claims it doesn't have the room to house competitors' equipment amid cries of foul play from an increasingly impatient industry. As of Friday those industry voices have the right to scrutinise BT's excuses using independent inspectors.

BT insists it has nothing to hide: "If there is no space, there is no space and some of them [exchanges] are chockablock," a BT spokesman said, claiming that adding new equipment to already crowded exchanges could cause interference.

If the inspectors do find that BT has misled the industry it will be forced to pay compensation.

While BT sticks to its "no space" guns it does suggest building extensions to existing exchanges as a possible solution. The telco claims Redstone Telecom is already exploring the feasibility of these extensions but points out that the burden of cost would be born by the operator.

Other issues clarified in Oftel's proposal include binding BT to quality of service agreements and timescales for making colocation facilities available. Colt (quote: CTM), which chaired the group of alternative operators who sent the original complaint to Oftel, welcomes the move. "We are pleased that the director general of Oftel has agreed with our complaints that the contract terms offered by BT were unfair," reads a statement from Colt.

"A number of restrictions have been removed and we are now able to obtain independent verification of whether space is available."

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