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British regulator poised to rule on telecoms sector

Thursday is decision day for those who call for Britain's telecoms market to be overhauled.Britain's communications landscape may be fundamentally altered, when British telecommunication regulator Ofcom updates the industry on the progress of its strategic telecoms review.

Thursday is decision day for those who call for Britain's telecoms market to be overhauled.

Britain's communications landscape may be fundamentally altered, when British telecommunication regulator Ofcom updates the industry on the progress of its strategic telecoms review.

Ofcom's review has focused on the impact of British Telecom's (BT) dominant position in the UK market. Back in November 2004, Ofcom threatened to launch an investigation into BT which could ultimately result in the company being split -- unless it gave its rivals full and fair access to its network.

The situation mirrors that currently in existence in Australia, where debate rages over whether Telstra should be operationally split into separate divisions to allow smaller telcos to fairly utilise its infrastructure.

In response, BT has proposed to create a new 'access services' division that would be responsible for access to its core network, and vowed to cut the cost of various broadband products that it sells to other operators.

Thursday's announcement from Ofcom looks likely to settle the perennial issue of BT's break-up, one way or another. However, the telco would fiercely fight any attempt to break it up.

"This will probably be the biggest announcement for BT in decades, and it could mean the biggest change since privatisation," said one BT insider.

ZDNet Australia&nbsp's Renai LeMay contributed to this report.