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Oftel wimps out, again

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Following an EU report earlier this week that slammed BT for overcharging on leased lines, Oftel has shown itself as the toothless watchdog yet again with the announcement of another new review into the situation. The EU's recommended monthly ceilings for leased lines, which had been heartily welcomed by UK operators, made only a footnote in Oftel's report. Oftel said it would "consider the implications" of the EU's stance. An Oftel representative said the watchdog did not agree with "aspects" of the EU's estimation, although refused to mention what any of these aspects were. Despite BT's prices coming out three times higher than the recommended maximum, the report claimed BT was "broadly in line (or in some cases slightly cheaper) than other European countries". The watchdog acknowledged that people will not be happy with the report. Perhaps dismayed, frustrated and incensed would be more accurate. Earlier in the week, major telcos including Cable & Wireless expressed their pleasure at the EU report and hoped the market would move in the same way as switched interconnections had several years earlier. But in a double blow to the telecommunications industry, Oftel not only largely disregarded the EU's findings but also announced that the new review would not be finished until October next year and will only review "the regulations concerning leased lines" and not leased line prices. If Oftel continues to show such unrealistic arrogance in the face of a fast-moving and important market, the only friend the "independent watchdog" will have left is BT. ® See related items: Even the EU thinks BT is a rip-off Unmetered access gets Oftel's backing

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