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BT could face a full investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) despite an Oftel ruling last week that the monster telco was not guilty of anti-competitive behaviour.

Basingstoke-based ISP Cloud Nine, maintains BT is in breach of the Competition Act and will take its complaint to the European Commission if the OFT decides not to act.

In January, Cloud Nine claimed the monster telco had hiked the price of its wholesale unmetered Net access product, SurfPort24, making it all but impossible for small and medium-sized ISPs to compete with large providers.

SurfPort24 costs £720,000 a quarter - in advance - simply too expensive for many smaller and medium-sized ISPs.

Cloud Nine complained to the telecoms watchdog but last week Oftel ruled that BT was not acting anti-competitively.

However, Cloud Nine, has decided to refer the matter to the OFT accusing the winged watchdog of failing to examine its complaint adequately.

Last Thursday, the regulator wrote to Cloud Nine and said: "Oftel does not consider that BT's minimum requirements for its SurfPort24 product are anti competitive. BT has not, therefore, breached Condition 57 of its licence, and the case has been closed."

The decision has incensed Emeric Miszti, Cloud Nine MD. In a statement, he said: "The investigation was conducted in an incompetent, unthorough and one-side manner.

"Their [Oftel's] statement makes it quite clear that they extensively consulted BT but we were given no opportunity at all to respond or comment beyond our original submission," he said.

He told El Reg: "The Oftel investigation was a sham."

Miszti said that Oftel was reluctant to take the case and when it did, failed to contact Cloud Nine during the investigation to seek clarification or seek further information.

A spokeswoman at Oftel declined to comment on Miszti's allegations about the investigation.

She said: "We have closed the case. There is no evidence that BT's minimum requirement was anti-competitive."

No one at BT was available by press time. ®

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ISP accuses BT of price fixing

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