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118: We're doing fine, says BT

Or, if you look at it another way, everyone's doing badly...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

Or, if you look at it another way, everyone's doing badly...

Since the switch-off of the old directory enquiries number 192 last month, BT has seen its share of the market decline. The telco's not worried though, and Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail has come out fighting. He announced in a statement today that while BT's DQ market share had fallen – a development widely expected by industry watchers and the telco itself, the drop should be seen in the context of the market as a whole, where, according to BT's figures, the number of calls for the two weeks after the 192 switch-off were down 45 per cent on the corresponding period last year. Danon blamed Oftel's deregulation for the market's disappointing performance, saying: "This massive reduction can only be partly attributed to the annual decline of between five and 10 per cent in directory enquiry calls in recent years. We believe that this further drop is mainly attributable to recent regulatory changes, and the resulting consumer confusion and concerns about price and quality." He added that he expected BT's directory enquiries revenues to pick up in the future, citing the example of other countries, such as Ireland and Germany, where deregulation has seen customers trying other operators before returning to using the previous DQ incumbent. The Number 118 118 responded, saying that according to the call volumes BT is reporting – 7.4 million in the last two weeks – its market share is even larger than it had expected and could be as much as 10 per cent higher than originally thought at around 50 per cent. William Ostrom, director of communications at The Number 118 118, told silicon.com that BT's comments about quality of competitors' services were "ridiculous", adding "if they were true, people simply wouldn't call us".
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