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BT is to split its mass-market ISP BTopenworld, in a move which will, it says. benefit customers and deliver cost savings for the telecoms company.

According to BT, the reorganisation provides a "clear roadmap for the future of BTopenworld", although critics are already questioning if it breaches BT's licence.

From January 1, BTopenworld will be split with BTopenworld's Net access and portal services operations reporting to a new MD, Duncan Ingram. All other parts of the BTopenworld portfolio - including the development and customer services team, and its content operations such as sportal.com, GamesDomain and dotmusic - will move to BT Retail.

As part of the changes, loss-making BTopenworld will no longer publish its financial performance separately. Instead, the numbers will be rolled into BT Retail.

In a statement, Pierre Danon, BT Group main board director and chief executive of BT Retail, said: "I am firmly committed to the future of BTopenworld, which is a strong brand and has made a significant impact in the UK's dial-up and broadband markets.

"My strategic intent is to increase further its focus on customer satisfaction and service and I am convinced that customers will see real benefits as a result.

"BTopenworld will be run under my wing as a separate business, independent of the rest of the BT Retail offering."

A spokeswoman for Freeserve told The Register: "Before commenting further, Freeserve is keen to hear Oftel's views on whether the added value Internet services BT is talking about are compatible with BT Retail's licence. Our view is that they are not." ®

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