Feeds

BT clashes with MPs in broadband inquiry

All heat, little substance

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Tempers boiled over yesterday at a parliamentary inquiry into broadband after BT was forced to fend off accusations that it was "arrogant".

The clash between Trade and Industry Select Committee chairman Martin O'Neill and BT boss Ben Verwaayen brought an end to a day that had seen eight different organisations - including AOL UK, Freeserve and Oftel - questioned about their views on broadband Britain.

Flanked by BT's chief broadband officer, Alison Ritchie, and head of regulatory affairs Anne Heal, Verwaayen was asked if BT was a dominant player in the broadband market.

"We're in a strong position," admitted Verwaayen, "not a dominant one".

But you're "still the biggest beast in the jungle", said O'Neill.

As the two men squared up, Verwaayen denied that BT was in a "privileged position in terms of infrastructure".

O'Neill asked what would happen if BT had a lower market share, a question harping back to earlier questioning about the break-up of BT.

Splitting BT's wholesale and retail divisions, argued Verwaayen, would mean the company would not be able to come up with innovative broadband products.

"You're not the only innovator in the land - you've not been given a God-given right to innovate," snapped O'Neill.

He added that many of BT's rivals accuse it of being "an arrogant organisation", a claim strongly denied by Verwaayen.

Yesterday's bad-tempered exchange threatened to overshadow what should have been a constructive insight into the state of broadband in Britain.

Earlier, AOL UK said there was not enough wholesale broadband competition with BT dominant in the provision of ADSL. It argued that consumers would benefit if alternative operators were able to compete with BT.

Freeserve also expressed its concerns about the lack of wholesale choice. In its evidence to the committee it said: "Because there is no diversity in access to the wholesale market, one company [BT] has through its historical inheritance been placed in a position of being able to set the wholesale and retail price."

Instead, Freeserve called for local loop unbundling (LLU) to be given a second chance as a way for rival operators to compete with BT. ®

Related Story

MPs prepare for broadband inquiry

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.