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MPs to scrutinise Ofcom's telecoms review

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

MPs are to scrutinise Ofcom's strategic review of the telecoms industry to assess the regulator's approach to promoting the right framework for a competitive broadband market. The Trade and Industry Select Committee (TISC) wants to examine the progress of the review so far and to make sure that the year-long investigation into the UK's telecoms sector is heading in the right direction.

In particular, the TISC wants to focus on the UK's broadband market, local loop unbundling (LLU) and the functional separation of BT. The intervention of TISC is, effectively, a "review of the [telecoms] review" said one source.

In November, Ofcom published phase two of its Strategic Review of Telecommunications. While it rejected calls to break up BT, Ofcom warned that unless it made "substantive behavioural and organisational changes" - including giving rivals equal access to its wholesale product range - then it would take action against the UK's dominant fixed line telco.

Evidence for TISC's review needs to be submitted by 18 February.

A year ago the TISC's own review into the UK's telecoms sector found that the UK lacks effective wholesale broadband competition and needs regulatory intervention to restore confidence to the industry.

Said the report ahead of Ofcom's telecoms review: "It is imperative that those looking to invest in the market have confidence in the robustness of the regulatory regime. Without wishing to anticipate the detail of the ultimate outcome of the reviews, it is vital that the matter is resolved. It may be that that the advent of Ofcom gives the opportunity to re-establish confidence in the regulatory regime where currently it is lacking." ®

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