Oftel warns BT over property sell off

BT's plans must not snag local loop unbundling, says watchdog

Telecommunications watchdog Oftel said Thursday it would seek assurance from BT that selling off its property to pay debts will not affect phone and Internet services in the UK.

David Edmonds, director general of Oftel, said that BT must not go back on its promise to comply with opening up local telephone exchanges to other companies, which is expected to lead to greater competition and cheaper Internet access in Britain.

"Oftel will want to be assured that the planned disposals do not affect BT's ability to meet its licence and other obligations, including those relating to the provision of universal telephone service and local loop unbundling," Edmonds said.

BT is plagued with debt after investing so much in third-generation (3G) mobile phone licences. To pay for this investment, BT plans to raise £2bn by selling off 7,500 properties and relocating to less expensive regional properties. BT debts are nevertheless expected to reach £30bn by the end of Q1.

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