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BT's rivals play the competition card

Energis, Tiscali and Your Communications have raised the stakes in their fight against BT's allegedly monopolistic broadband pricing by launching a complaint under the Competition Act
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

The ongoing row over BT's latest broadband price cuts reached a new high on Tuesday when three rival telcos invoked competition law in an attempt to fight the move.

Energis, Tiscali and Your Communications have withdrawn an earlier complaint over BT's decision to cut the prices of its IPStream range of business and consumer ADSL products by up to 50 percent. These products operate only across BT Wholesale's network and are bought by Internet service providers and resold to end users.

The complaint has been resubmitted under the 1998 Competition Act, which the operators claim gives Oftel more power than the 1984 Telecommunications Act -- under which the original complaint was filed.

This move could see BT forced to make further reductions to the prices of its Datastream products, which rival telcos use to connect their networks into BT's, and ultimately could mean lower broadband prices for firms.

"This shows the determination in our fight to ensure fair pricing for all customers in order to speed up the rollout of broadband in Britain and end BT's stranglehold on the wholesale broadband market," said John Pluthero, chief executive of Energis, in a statement.

"Our new complaint carries more weight under the Competition Act 1998 and will ensure that Oftel's decision is fully scrutinised. We urge Oftel to examine the evidence in light of our new complaint and impose a swift and full price reduction upon BT's Datastream," Pluthero added.

The original BT price cuts were announced in April. After the original complaint, BT decided to also cut its Datastream prices, but the likes of Energis and Tiscali don't believe the reduction was sufficient.

"Without a viable and competitive Datastream product, BT resumes its position as a monopoly in the broadband market -- which is a disaster for the industry, businesses and the consumer," explained Sergio Cellini, chief executive of Tiscali.

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