Oftel fingers BT over dial-up price cut

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Oftel claims BT should cut the cost of wholesale unmetered narrowband Net access by 17 per cent.

Launching a consultation - prompted by a complaint from Cable & Wireless and later supported by Energis - the telecoms regulator reckons the cut is necessary because BT is charging operators for certain call routing and call management measures that are no longer technically necessary.

If implemented, BT would have to backdate the refund to December 2001.

Said Oftel chief David Edmonds in a statement: "I propose to order BT to reduce its wholesale unmetered Internet access prices by 17 per cent...these savings could be passed on by other operators to their customers.

"Oftel's action will ensure that operators and consumers pay a fair price for unmetered Internet access from BT, and reflects the relevant costs that BT incurs to provide this service."

However, even if the cost cutting is implemented in full BT estimates it would only lead to a £10-£15m loss in revenue.

One industry insider told The Register that even if ISPs did pass on the discount in full - a move thought unlikely - then it would only mean a price cut of a few pence a month.

The dominant telco is currently studying what it describes as a "very complex" document. ®

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