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Oftel rejects Freeserve broadband complaints

BT strategy not anti-competitive, allegedly

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Oftel has thrown out a string of complaints from Freeserve over allegations that BT's broadband strategy is anti-competitive.

The allegations were raised in April when Freeserve launched a stinging attack against BT, claiming the monster telco was running an "orchestrated campaign of anti-competitive behaviour".

At the time the UK's largest ISP called on telecoms regulator Oftel to investigate allegations that BT was stifling competition in a bid to become the dominant player for retail DSL services.

It also called on Oftel to force BT to cease all cross-marketing activity with its mass market ISP, BTopenworld, immediately.

In a letter to Oftel Freeserve claimed BTopenworld - which should operate at arms length from the rest of BT - must have had prior knowledge of cuts in the wholesale cost of DSL.

John Pluthero, chief exec of Freeserve, said at the time: "The 'Chinese walls' that are supposed to exist between BT Wholesale and BTopenworld may be fooling Oftel. But to the rest of us who understand the lead times needed to bring a new product to market it's obvious those walls are wafer thin."

But a ruling by Oftel published earlier this month and spotted by New Media Age dismisses all of Freeserve's concerns as utter tosh.

"Freeserve made a number of complaints regarding BT's marketing and pricing of its ADSL services," said Oftel.

"In summary, the information supplied by Freeserve for the complaint did not provide evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by BT and the Director does not consider that these issues warrant further investigation. Therefore Oftel has closed this case," it said.

Unusually for Freeserve, it declined to discuss the matter. In a short statement it said: " We have no comment to give regarding Oftel." ®

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