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Oftel loosens BT shackles

But is it good for competition?

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Oftel is to release BT from part of its regulatory bondage that prevents it from competing in the international telephony market. The winged watchdog claims that BT's market share has now fallen to below 37 per cent for international calls made by business users. In the residential market, its share has dropped by 12 per cent over the last five years. This, says Oftel, is proof that competition exists and BT should have a freer hand to compete more effectively with the 50 or so operators currently offering international calls. One of the results of this is that BT does not need to seek Offal's (surely you mean Oftel - Ed) consent to offer prices, which are below cost. In other words, BT could chop the price of international calls to such an extent that it makes a loss. Now, does it sit back and lose money...or does it try and regain the cash elsewhere? Oftel claims this is in line with its strategy of reducing regulation as markets "become more competitive". Competition? According to BT and Oftel, it's what you enter to win a free holiday. ®

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