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BT in muddle over sell-offs

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Britain's telecommunications network would be easier to regulate if BT sold it off, the winged watchdog admitted today.

Oftel's assessment came as BT confirmed it was looking into the possibility of spinning off its wholesale UK network enabling it to concentrate instead on retail and overseas businesses.

A spokesman for Oftel confirmed that the regulator had discussed the matter with BT earlier this year on an informal basis.

No formal communication has yet been received by Oftel from BT to demerge its network operation although BT has reportedly been in discussion with government over the proposal.

Asked about the result of a possible demerger, a spokesman for the winged watchdog said: "It would make regulation simpler."

Sir Peter Bonfield, BT's CE, said that he hoped to make a decision on the demerger by the end of the year but warned that spinning off the wholesale business was a "complicated" matter.

Last month BT confirmed and denied - within the matter of a day or so - that it was also planning to sell off its broadband operation, BTOpenworld. ®

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