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Competition Watchdog mulls Freeserve's BT complaint

Broadband under the microscope

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The Competition Commission Appeal Tribunals (CCAT) - the UK's highest specialist competition law court - is currently hearing an appeal that could have could have wider repercussions for the UK's broadband sector.

The two-day hearing follows an earlier CCAT ruling that Freeserve was entitled to appeal after Oftel dismissed a complaint made by Freeserve about BT early last year.

The CCAT will now decide what to do about the rejected Oftel complaint, which claimed BT was in breach of competition law in marketing broadband.

Freeserve's complaint, made in March 2002, alleged that BT Openworld was given advance notice of the 40 per cent price reduction of wholesale broadband access.

Freeserve claim that this enabled BT Openworld to put together marketing campaigns in advance of the rest of the market and importantly price offers, which Freeserve also believes were cross subsidised and predatory.

If BT is found to have acted anti-competitively, Freeserve could pursue damages.

The CCAT is expected to publish its judgement in February or March. ®

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