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BT 'unlikely' to be broken up

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Ofcom is expected to shy away from calling for BT to be split when it publishes the findings of its review into the UK's telecoms sector next month.

In April, the telcoms regulator published the first phase of its consultation into the year-long review into the sector. One of the five key questions posed by the regulator was: "At varying times since 1984, the case has been made for structural or operational separation of BT, or the delivery of full functional equivalence. Are these still relevant questions?"

The Mail on Sunday reports that industry pressure to see the break-up of BT has all but evaporated, helped in part by BT's recent prce cuts for local loop unbundling (LLU).

In June UK telecoms trade group - UKCTA, which represents Cable & Wireless, Colt, Energis, NTL and Thus and others- stopped short of calling for the complete break-up of BT. Instead, it called for greater operating and accounting transparency within the UK's dominant fixed line telco.

Although UKCTA believes that BT still "enjoys a dominant position" it "does not currently strongly support full ownership separation of BT into a regulated access network business and a competitive business".

Breaking up BT "would be slow and difficult to achieve in the face of BT opposition", it said.

UKCTA echoed the views of Connect and the CWU, the UK's two leading communications trade unions, which said that any break-up of BT would be "immensely complicated". ®

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