Oftel, the telecoms watchdog, has set the prices at which BT must allow rivals to offer ADSL internet access over its wires.
The announcement follows criticism from rivals who want to undercut BT's ADSL prices to end users.
Operators taking a local loop from BT will pay of £122 per year plus a one-off conection fee of £88. The final retail charges to customers will be set by the operators. The £122 rent brings the wholesale price for ADSL close to the retail monthly price of telephjone dial-up accounts, and is expected to lead to keenly priced offerings from BT's rival operators.
Operators must still install their own ADSL equipment in the local exchange building, but even allowing for these costs and any profit margin the prices suggest tariffs may fall subsyantially once true competition begins.
Charges have also been fixed by Oftel for the cables that connect the unbundled loops in BT's exchanges to the operators' own equipment. The rental will be £21 per year for every 100 unbundled lines, plus a one-off charge of £863 for connection to equipment within the exchange. The connection charge for cables for distant co-location will be lower, at £674.
David Edmonds, Oftel’s director general, said: “The announcements today on the final price of loops and arrangements for shared access will help operators to finalise their plans to offer high speed DSL services over BT's local telephone network.
“We have also set out the basis on which shared access will be introduced. This will offer not only operators, but consumers, a wider choice of options for providing and receiving voice and data services.”