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Oftel pushes for cheaper narrowband internet

Threatens to wipe £15m a year off BT's balance sheet
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Threatens to wipe £15m a year off BT's balance sheet

Oftel is pushing for the cost of BT's wholesale unmetered narrowband internet products to be cut by 17 per cent. The telecoms regulator said on Friday that some of the charges that BT levies on the service providers that use its network to offer dial-up services are no longer fair. Oftel wants these costs to be dropped by BT, and claims that this would be good news for consumers. David Edmonds, Oftel's director general of telecommunications, said in a statement: "Oftel's action will ensure that operators and consumers pay a fair price for unmetered access from BT." If implemented, the decision would cost BT between £10m and £15m per year, plus an additional cost of up to £15m because Oftel wants it backdated to the end of 2001. The telco has until 7 May to respond to the proposal, and so far it isn't giving any clear indications as to whether it will oppose or accept the move. "This is a very complex subject, so we'll be studying Oftel's document carefully," a BT spokesman said. But it is unlikely that this proposal will be fought, as similar Oftel rulings of this type have generally been accepted by BT. At this stage, it is too early to say whether this proposal would actually mean cheaper internet access for consumers, especially as most companies are now concentrating on broadband. Several ISPs declined to speculate on what the impact of Oftel's proposal might be.
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