Oftel should ‘raise awareness’ of BT rivals

Watchdog Watchdogged

Oftel, the telecoms watchdog, should do more to raise public awareness of BT rivals, the National Audit Office claims.

In a report to be presented to Parliament today, the NAO notes that just 23 per cent of consumers could name a telecom supplier other than BT. Which just goes to show that it is unwise to underestimate the intelligence of the Great British Public. According to the NAO, BT has around 70 per cent market share, losing much less to new entrants than traditional incumbents in the gas and electricity sectors. This means that seven per cent of customers don't know the name of their supplier. As we said, it is unwise to underestimate...

Gas and electricity watchdogs have been much more proactive than Oftel in making consumers aware of choices, according to the NAO. Yes, yes, but BT's market share for Internet and mobile phones (even if you take into account O2, its former subsidiary) is much less than this, and much less than PTTs in other major Europe countries.

Oftel has implemented many changes ahead of publication of the report, it told the FT. It has published several consumer guides, for instance.

Which is nice. But is it really Oftel's role to highlight BT's rivals? Are they really so lacklustre at promotion? Surely a cull of the marketing departments of the alternative telcos would be more effective than aiming a kick up Oftel's backside? ®

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