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Oftel boss gets Ofcom job

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Heavily criticised Oftel boss David Edmonds has secured a place on the board of the new Office of Communications (Ofcom).

His appointment (it's possibly because he knew the PM when he used to rock and roll - Ed) will be scoffed at by those in the industry who believe the telecoms regulator has failed to keep BT in check - especially over matters concerning the development of the Internet in the UK.

Most recently, Freeserve has been critical of Oftel, claiming it is ignoring BT's alleged abuse of its dominant market position in return for the telco being more proactive in rolling out broadband in the UK.

Far from aiding competition, Edmonds' critics believe that the watchdog's lack of regulatory bite has allowed BT to drag its heels over the introduction of unmetered dial-up access, local loop unbundling and broadband.

Last year Mr Edmonds was warned that he faced the blame for the UK becoming the broadband 'sick man of Europe' unless he resolved a long-running dispute over the local leased market.

Failure to do, he was told, would result in Broadband Britain going the way of Railtrack - "a project full of great rhetoric but ultimately an embarrassing disaster with very significant economic and social consequences".

In 2001 he was runner up in the industry award for "Internet Villain" - only pipped to the post by BT.

Even the mild-mannered Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) has accused Oftel of ignorance when it comes to understanding the needs of Britain's Internet industry.

And then there are countless number of times people have called for his resignation over lack of progress.

Anyhow, back to his appointment. Mr Edmonds will get £30,000 a year for working two days a week in his new job.

He will join a handful of others (Urmila Banerjee, Richard Hooper and Sara Nathan in case you're interested) to oversee the creation of the new independent regulatory body, which will cover broadcasting, telecoms and the management of the radio spectrum.

Lord Currie of Marylebone was appointed chairman of Ofcom at the beginning of August. ®

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