Oftel to reinvestigate BT broadband

The Competition Appeals Tribunal has granted Freeserve's appeal against an earlier Oftel decision, meaning a new inquiry into BT's alleged 'predatory pricing' of ADSL products

Oftel is to reinvestigate claims that BT acted anti-competitively in promoting its broadband products, following a successful appeal to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) by BT rival Freeserve.

Freeserve originally asked Oftel, the telecoms regulator, to look into the promotion of the telco's "no frills" product, BT Broadband, in March 2002 but the telecoms regulator dismissed the case.

Freeserve appealed to the CAT, which has ruled that Oftel must look again at one aspect of Freeserve's complaint, related to predatory pricing, in the next three months.

Freeserve originally filed two complaints, one against BT Retail, the other against BT Wholesale and BTopenworld.

In the first complaint, Freeserve alleged that BT Wholesale had abused its dominant position through "cross-subsidy, discrimination and predatory pricing as well as through sending out a 'Telephone Census' to its customers."

Freeserve's gripes included allegations that BT Openworld -- the telco's ISP division -- was given advance notice on a price cut on wholesale broadband access introduced by another division of BT, BT Wholesale.

This enabled BT Openworld to put together marketing campaigns and offer special deals to customers before the rest of the industry, according to Freeserve. The ISP also believes BT is guilty of cross-subsidisation.

Silicon.com's Graham Hayday and ZDNet UK's Graeme Wearden contributed to this report.

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