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Oftel policy under attack from telecoms managers

Antony Savvas


The Telecommunications Managers' Association this week launched a stinging attack on Oftel's new regulatory regime. Managers accused the telecoms regulator of failing to protect users against large suppliers.

The attack, spearheaded by David Harrington, the association's director general, comes at a sensitive time for Oftel, which has just appointed a new director of regulatory policy.

Oftel announced last month that it intended to let competition be the main regulator in most telecoms markets.

A furious Harrington this week told Computer Weekly that Oftel had sacrificed users' interests by failing to impose greater competition on market-dominating suppliers such as BT.

Harrington also attacked Oftel for adopting a laissez-faire attitude towards regulation. "It's not the right time to take a hands-off approach in any area of telecoms," he said.

Harrington's persistent scepticism has been rebuked by Oftel, which last week appointed Chris Kenny as its new director of regulatory policy.

An Oftel spokeswoman said, "We are not packing our bags when it comes to regulation. There is already plenty of regulation out there which can be used for all areas of concern, if needed."

She dismissed accusations that the Government was putting pressure on Oftel to take a hands-off approach. She said, "We are a non-ministerial government department, and all our documents are open for consultation."

Oftel is currently considering whether the leased lines market needs to be regulated, but this consultation will not conclude until the end of the year.

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