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Former Oftel boss leaves Ofcom

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David Edmonds, the former head of defunct telecoms regulator Oftel,is to step down as a board member of Ofcom early in the New Year.

According to the spinmeisters at Ofcom, Edmonds is "leaving, at his own request, before the end of his three year term (which expires in September 2005) in order to develop other interests". Who cares.

For many, Edmonds lacked the clout to deal with an incumbent operator hell-bent on doing anything and everything to protect its market domination.

On one occasion, facing a parliamentary select committee in 2000, Edmonds was ripped apart for Oftel's failure to regulate the telco.

"Frankly, BT was taking you for a ride," MP Martin O'Neill told him. "Your complacency is quite appalling. One can't blame BT if you can't police them."

Said Edmonds: "You need to hit BT with a club five times and on the sixth they come up with what you want. We have had trench warfare all this summer."

Last year, commenting on the dog's breakfast made of local loop unbundling (LLU) four years ago he said: "I was the first European regulator to go down that route. At no time did we allow BT to thwart what we were doing. I was a convenient scapegoat in a period when some of BT's competitors were seeing their very, very thin business plans lapsing because of the environment."

And only last month in Ofcom's telecoms review, the new regulator said: "For twenty years, regulation has failed to fully address the problem of BT's control of the infrastructure connecting customers to the network."

A spokesman for Ofcom denied this was a criticism of the regulator, but of past regulation. ®

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