BT unmoved by C&W broadband broadside

MPs have heard C&W claim that BT is using its dominant position to squash innovation, but the telecoms giant is having none of it

BT has dismissed an attack from rival telco Cable & Wireless, which claims that the former state monopoly's grip on the UK telecoms market is hampering broadband competition.

C&W chief executive Francesco Caio told the Trade and Industry select committee on Tuesday that BT was keeping market share by frustrating and stifling innovation among its competitors. Caio blamed both the UK government and regulators for not driving more competition in UK telecommunications.

According to BT, though, C&W is out of date and out of touch.

"This is a very regressive bit of bluster," said BT spokesman Michael Wadley, who suggested that Caio had forgotten that cable companies NTL and Telewest both run telecommunication networks that compete with BT.

It is thought that BT has close to three million customers for its high-speed ADSL service. Over 50 percent of those are using an ISP other than BT Retail, which BT has said is a sign that competition is alive and well.

But on the wholesale ADSL side, BT is extremely powerful. Easynet and Bulldog (recently acquired by C&W) are the only companies offering competing ADSL services through local-loop unbundling, and they are thought to have rather fewer than 10,000 customers between them.

BT's wholesale broadband dominance has been cited by many critics in the past as a reason to split the company up, something BT has fought hard against.