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BT rivals demand Ofcom action

Wholesale package not 'fit for purpose'

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Five rival telco providers have written to Ofcom complaining that BT is not offering a wholesale line rental package which is "fit for purpose".

Carphone Warehouse, Centrica (One.Tel), Phones 4 U, Telco and Vartec say that they cannot properly compete because BT does not offer good enough service for a mass market product. Rival operators claim they pay more to lease or reconnect lines than BT Retail pays BT Wholesale.

Mike Holliday-Williams, marketing director at One.Tel, told The Register: "The devil is in the detail. It's lots of little issues like getting timely and accurate customer information - we can't access customer details on a Saturday. It should be a smooth service but it's not something we could offer to the mass market yet - there's too many small issues to sort out first."

Holliday-Williams said: "On the commercial side we want the same as BT Retail get. We pay 85p for 1571 services but BT Retail get it free."

A spokesman for BT said: "We've done everything that we were asked to do on this. There was an detailed and open consultative process between ourselves, the regulator and other operators, the specification was agreed and that's what we provided." The spokesman added that One.Tel were a central part of that trial and had an opportunity to complain then that the process was unfair.

Wholesale services have been on offer since March last year but there has been very little take-up. One reason for this is the problem of two bills - one for the BT line and one for calls made.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: "We have received the letter and it raises a series of issues which we are aware of and working hard to resolve. We're working with operators on issues around the scalability of BT's systems and the speed with which they can respond to service requests. This is something we take seriously and would hope to see some improvements by the end of the year." ®

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