Feeds

Oftel dismisses Freeserve BT complaint

Same old, same old

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

BT's broadband marketing does not breach the Competition Act, Oftel has ruled.

The regulator investigated BT's tactics after a complaint from Freeserve alleging that BT was behaving anti-competitively by using its 'blue bill' and '150' customer service line to market BT Broadband products. BT's joint telephony and Internet billing packages are also anti-competitive, Freeserve further alleged.

Following an investigation, Oftel ruled today that these practices did not give BT an unfair advantage over its competitors, such as Freeserve.

The use of the BT retail '150' customer support number as a sales and marketing channel for BT Broadband is not a threat to competition, the regulator ruled.

"Oftel's investigation showed that the number of consumers taking BT Broadband as a result of '150' marketing was sufficiently low not to have a material adverse effect on competition," it says.

The regulator ruled that BT's practice of bundling promotional material for BT Broadband with residential phone bills isn't a competitive threat either. This is a scatter-gun approach, the regulator reasoned, and BT's "competitors can more specifically target likely broadband users by using direct marketing at a similar or lower cost".

Oftel concludes that the benefits of offering a joint billing (or 'blue bill') service, where telephony and broadband bills appear on the same bill, "can be easily replicated using credit card payments or direct debit".

David Edmonds, Director General of Telecommunications, commented: "Oftel looked at each of the issues raised by Freeserve, and considered them in detail. In this instance we have concluded that BT's marketing activity using the 'blue bill' and '150' customer service line does not prevent Freeserve competing on a fair basis."

The Director General's decision on the Competition Act investigation into BT can be found on Oftel's Web site.

No-one at Freeserve was available for immediate comment on the ruling.

Relations between Britain's biggest French ISP and the regulator have been strained of late after Freeserve appealed Oftel's ruling on a separate complaint it made to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT), the UK's highest specialist competition law court.

The CAT's April ruling upheld Oftel's decision on three of the four points of contention. However the CAT told Oftel to look again at allegations of predatory pricing in the broadband sector by BT, after ruling that the regulator's initially inquiry was insufficiently thorough.

Both Oftel and Freeserve have claimed victory in the dispute and the row between the pair has rumbled on through the letters columns of the broadsheets. ®

Related Stories

Freeserve hits back at regulator
Oftel and Freeserve competition row rumbles on
Freeserve and Oftel both claim victory in key competition dispute
Freeserve nears 70k BB punters
BT admits distribution talks with Dixons
BTo tops Oftel complaints league table
BB punters would 'tolerate' price rise

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.