'Toothless' Oftel comes under fire

UK telecoms regulator Oftel has been accused of putting the vision of "broadband Britain" under threat with its "toothless" approach towards the unbundling of the local loop.

UK telecoms regulator Oftel has been accused of putting the vision of "broadband Britain" under threat with its "toothless" approach towards the unbundling of the local loop.

Today's allegation comes from RSL COM, which claims to be the UK's fourth-largest international telco carrier. It threatened to withdraw from bidding for local exchange space because Oftel changed the rules at the eleventh hour. According to RSL, Oftel will only allow service providers to bid for the least-used exchanges. In a statement, RSL said the decision by the regulator made a mockery of attempts to get full competition in the local loop. Oftel has denied the allegations. A spokeswoman told silicon.com that which exchanges would open up to competition was based solely on which would be able to get up and running quickly. She added: "We are allocating exchanges because the telcos asked us to, after they were unable to come to any agreement among themselves. In the light of this, RSL's criticisms are inappropriate." The attack follows a bad weekend for the beleaguered watchdog following allegations in the Sunday papers that it is not taking a tough enough line with BT.