British Telecom accused of ‘broadband monopoly’ by UK telcos
Mon 24 Nov 2014
A collective of UK telecom providers have registered a complaint with Ofcom, the British media regulator, calling for an end to the monopoly that it considers British Telecom retains in the broadband market.
The complaint comes from the UK Competitive Telecommunications Association (UKCTA), the board of directors of which includes representatives from AT&T, the UK Post Office, Virgin Media, Level (3), Opal Telecom and SSE, though UKCTA also speaks for Sky and TalkTalk on this issue.
UKCTA is calling for an end to BT’s supposed exclusive right to deploy new cable and develop infrastructure which UKTCA members will then need to lease. The message is also critical of Ofcom itself, claiming that it has deviated from its core mission of championing competition in the UK digital infrastructure sector.
A change in the current implementation of rollout would mean alterations to British Telecom’s Openreach programme. The Openreach scheme, begun in 2006, manages allocation of the Main Distribution Frame [MDF] and the Wholesale/Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) termination points from which BT regulates the access of its lines to sub-providers.
Commenting on the Ofcom complaint, a BT spokesman said: “The UK has a vibrant wholesale business connectivity market, with strong competition and innovation amongst a large number of providers… forcing Openreach to offer access to its ducts or dark fibre would increase costs and add extra complexity to way UK businesses are served.”
This is not a new theme for the collective. In October of 2013 it published a paper [PDF] addressing some of the issues that it has brought up now.
“As BT undertakes widespread deployment of fibre to the cabinet and starts to roll out fibre to the premises in some areas, UKCTA believes it is time for a review of the Undertakings in the context of the emergence of NGA and the wholesale products needed to support competition in this area. For example, for UKCTA members using the WLR active wholesale product, there is concern that there are no BT plans or regulatory requirements for a follow-on active wholesale voice product for use in areas where fibre extends to the premises (FTTP areas).”
An Ofcom spokesperson commented: “We make no apology for protecting consumers. For us, that work goes hand-in-hand with promoting competition. The UK already has the most competitive broadband market of any major European country. Our job is to ensure that customers benefit not only from innovation, but also from good quality of service and a fair deal.”
This article was amended 16.16 24th November to include the response from Ofcom.