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Tiscali blasts BT's ‘anti-competitive’ ADSL price cuts

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Tiscali UK has launched a savage attack against BT's price cuts, accusing the dominant telco of "anti-competitive" behaviour following today's announcement of wholesale price cuts for its ADSL service.

The ISP claims that the cuts discriminate against operators with rival networks including those involved in opening up the local loop.

Tiscali UK is currently seeking legal advice and intends to write to telecoms regulator Oftel and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to complain about the move.

It argues that today's price cuts only apply to BT's wholesale IPStream product, which provides an end-to-end ADSL service solely using BT's network.

The cuts do not apply to DataStream products, which use competing national networks from alternative, rival carriers.

This, Tiscali maintains, is anti-competitive. And insists that today's move merely "consolidates [BT's] monopolistic position".

Said Tiscali UK CEO Sergio Cellini: "Most of BT's actions in the last 12 months have been designed to kill the development of DataStream and to prevent competition.

"For example, today's price cut only applies to IPStream, and in particular a more than 50 per cent reduction has been applied to business broadband products, those that most directly compete with DataStream.

"If similar price cuts were applied to DataStream it would ensure even cheaper prices and more choice for the consumer. This is clear discrimination against DataStream, which is not in the consumer's interest, and is an effort to squeeze competitors' margins.

"This is Broadband BT not Broadband Britain."

The UK's biggest ISP, Freeserve, has also echoed Tiscali's concerns stating that it also wants to see the market opened up to alternative carriers.

The ISP said in a statement: "We are surprised that BT have not also reduced the price of their Datastream offering given the similarity of efficiencies and equipment costs to IPStream.

"True broadband DSL infrastructure competition will only be created when the regulator realises that local loop unbundling costs must be far lower than today and comparable with other countries in the EU."

A spokesman for Oftel said the regulator "welcomed price cuts as long as they reflected genuine cost reductions".

A BT spokesman said: "We are absolutely confident that today's announcement falls within the regulatory framework." ®

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