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Deregulated broadband market could boost UK economy by £22bn, claim BT rivals

Antony Adshead

A telecoms industry body comprising six of the UK’s communications heavyweights has been formed to campaign for greater competition in the UK broadband market.

The Broadband Industry Group - launched today by Cable & Wireless, Centrica, Energis, Freeserve, Tiscali and Brightview - said that bringing about full competition in broadband will boost the UK economy by £22bn by 2015.

The group was formed to campaign for "a level playing field" in the UK broadband market, said David Stewart, director of regulatory and public affairs for Energis.

The group will campaign to influence Oftel to change wholesale rules to allow other operators’ backbone networks to link up with BT’s exchanges and enjoy predictable pricing. The regulator will make a decision on this at the end of the year or early 2004.

He said, "At the moment there is competition at the retail layer but no-one is able to use their own network to develop their own services. In narrowband internet there are a number of different services - pay as you go, pre-paid, all-you-can-use - but in broadband everybody is restricted to offering the same thing but with a different bill."

Ovum analyst Jan Dawson said, "This consortium of alternative operators and ISPs is pledged to increasing competition in the UK broadband market - in other words, getting a better deal from BT on its wholesale services. BIG is hoping to solve the lack of innovation and true differentiation between services at the access level with a combination of price cuts, better terms and conditions and greater transparency."


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