BT faces new broadband investigation


BT faces new broadband investigation

Nick Huber

Telecommunications regulator Oftel is to re-open investigations into alleged predatory pricing by BT for its broadband services.

The fresh investigation, which could see BT being forced to increase its broadband prices, is in response to a ruling yesterday (16 April) from the Competition Appeal Tribunal. It found that that Oftel's investigation into alleged predatory pricing of BT Openworld broadband services, following a complaint last year by internet service provider Freeserve, was "insufficiently reasoned".

Oftel ruled there was no evidence of predatory pricing by BT Openworld in the growing market for broadband high-speed internet access.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has upheld Oftel's decision but criticised the reasoning behind elements of its ruling, forcing Oftel to re-examine the complaint. A new ruling must be released by 16 July. BT denies the allegations.

Freeserve complaint to Oftel over BT''s broadband policy included allegations that there was cross-marketing between BT and BT Openworld and predatory pricing of BT in the broadband sector.

Over the past few years BT has been accused by rival telecommunications companies of dragging its feet in the unbundling of the local loop, which is crucial to the rollout of broadband services.

Earlier this year, Oftel threatened action against BT over alleged breaches in its pricing policy. The telecoms regulator has issued a provisional order to BT requiring it to make public the discounts offered to secure a contract with a key customer, IBM. The telco, however, believes it has "done nothing wrong".

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