A Year Ago: Oftel pressures BT on Net access

Originally published Fri, 11 Dec 1998 17:50:52 GMT

The domination of Internet access by BT may be coming to an end with the launch yesterday of an industry debate into effective competition.

Launched by Oftel the debate is aimed at assessing whether the current shape of the UK telecom market is enabling customers fair and full access to "information age services".

Currently BT provides 85 percent of "local loops" -- the wiring which connects households and businesses to the Internet -- in the UK. In the consultation document, Oftel suggests BT may need to transfer control of individual lines to competitors.

Director general of Telecommunications, David Edmonds raised the possibility of regulatory action "if we identify that there are obstacles to the delivery of services", stressing that competition is always the best way to satisfy consumer needs.

Oftel also raised concerns about the level of current technology, suggesting BT may need to operate a higher bandwidth public network -- again giving access to competitors.

A spokesman for BT commented that there was already a wide variety of competition in the industry. So does BT welcome the debate? "We are not entirely happy. We don't believe local loop unbundling is the way forward. It is a complex debate," the spokesman said.

See also Kewney's World