BT mulls cutting LLU charges

Plans to jump before it's pushed

BT could be ready to cut charges that give rival operators access to its local network.

The FT reports that BT is planning to pre-empt any move by the regulator to force it to cut fees related to local loop unbundling (LLU).

LLU gives rival operators access to BT exchanges to provide telecoms services direct to homes and businesses. Compared to some European countries, rivals argue that the fees charged by BT are just to high.

So far, only around 11,000 phone lines have been unbundled in the UK led by companies such as EasyNet and Bulldog.

On Wednesday, though, Ofcom gave the biggest hint yet that it wants to see LLU fees "aligned" with other European countries in a bid to increase competition in the UK telco market. The regulator is due to publish a review of LLU on 10 May.

Said Ofcom boss, Stephen Carter, on Wednesday: "Ofcom cannot, of course, pre-empt what pricing decisions will flow from the review. But it would be surprising if at the end of the process, UK prices were not aligned much more closely with European best practice, where price reductions and growing user volumes form a virtuous circle."

Wanadoo UK (formerly Le Freeswerve) has made it known that should the cost of LLU fall in the UK then it would be prepared to invest in rolling out new telecoms products.

Commenting on the FT report a spokesman for BT told The Register: "We are considering LLU prices and we have been for a while. If people want lower spec products as in Europe, then we can look into that." ®

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