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ISPs mull BT broadband court battle

Industry unhappy with BT's dominant position

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Some of the UK's leading Internet operators are considering seeking a judicial review to examine what they describe as BT's alleged abuse of its dominant market position for broadband.

Discussions are currently underway as to the exact nature of the challenge but it's understood that it would focus on allegations of unfair competition concerning BT's provision of broadband services.

It is not known at this stage which companies are prepared to take the action. However, according to industry sources, Freeserve, Thus and Tiscali UK are participating in discusions over the feasibility of such a course.

The problem is that any legal action will be costly and it may be necessary to seek additional financial backing from other ISPs and operators before any challenge gets underway.

Certainly, no single operator is likely to want to go head-to-head with BT without some additional support.

Also, any challenge against BT is likely to be risky because of the dominant telco's role as wholesale provider of ADSL services raising genuine concerns that any challenge could damage the relationship between operators and BT.

Furthermore, if the legal action does proceed it might be seen as a vote of no confidence in the regulator and could potentially damage relations between operators and Oftel. ®

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