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Oftel investigates ‘anti-competitive’ BT

Telco bemused

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BT will still launch its new unmetered voice and Net access tariffs on Friday as planned despite facing an investigation by winged watchdog Oftel.

Oftel launched the investigation into alleged uncompetitive behaviour following a complaint. Oftel will not say who lodged the complaint.

Details are still sketchy, and Oftel is reluctant to discuss the matter. However, it appears the investigation centres on the issue of cross-subsidy - something that is forbidden under BT's licence.

The investigation focuses specifically on BT Surf Together and BT Talk & Surf Together, two unmetered offpeak packages that include unmetered Net access.

Executives at BT claim they are "bemused" by the enquiry.

In statement, BT chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield said: "We strongly resist the suggestion that we are acting anti-competitively: all we're trying to do is to give our customers excellent value for money. We will obviously cooperate with the Competition Act inquiry and fully expect to be given the all-clear."

A spokeswoman for the winged watchdog said this was the first time it had investigated under the Competition Act.

While Oftel welcomes lower prices for consumers, consumers' it believes interests are best served by effective competition. Oftel must ensure that these proposals from BT do not undermine effective
competition, it said. ®

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