Oftel unbundling guidelines look set for EC clash

Regulator accused of allowing BT delays on ADSL rollout -- guidelines on access for competitors are in line with EC, but unbundled product rollout date is not

Telecoms watchdog Oftel has released its official guidelines for unbundling the local loop, but the rules appear to contravene a European Community directive.

The directive, issued in July, requires incumbent telecommunications companies -- former government monopolies such as BT, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom -- to offer new entrants access to the local telephone system by January 2001. It also specifies that unbundled products be made available to consumers by then, according to an EC spokesman.

However, Oftel's guidelines require British Telecom (quote: BT) to begin giving its competitors access to the local loop in January. It does not require a product rollout in volume until the middle of next year.

Local loop unbundling, while not essential for voice-call competition, is considered essential for the introduction of competitive high-speed online services such as ADSL.

The full text of Oftel's "Access Network Facilities" guidelines is available online here.

Full story to follow.

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