BT rivals to campaign for fair access to broadband

A fully competitive broadband market could give a £22bn boost to the UK economy by 2015, according to the Broadband Industry...

A fully competitive broadband market could give a £22bn boost to the UK economy by 2015, according to the Broadband Industry Group, which was launched last week by Cable & Wireless, Centrica, Energis, Freeserve, Tiscali and Brightview.

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 at Energis.

It will campaign to persuade the regulator, Oftel, to change wholesale rules to allow other operators' backbone networks to link to BT exchanges and enjoy predictable pricing. A decision is expected by early 2004.

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

Ovum analyst Jan Dawson said, "This consortium 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."

The launch came days after e-commerce minister Stephen Timms called for 100% broadband access in the UK by 2005.

BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen, said 100% availability is BT's goal. BT requires users of rural exchanges to prove demand for broadband before it will upgrade exchanges, but last week it lowered trigger levels for more than 40% of its exchanges and said it will make broadband available to 99% of the UK population.

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