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BT clobbered in Ofcom probe

Pro-Energis ruling could result in payout

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Energis could be looking forward to a six-figure repayment from BT following a draft ruling today by Ofcom. The communications regulator was forced to intervene in a row between the two companies last October concerning allegations that BT had overcharged Energis for wholesale business ISDN2 Line Rental (WLR ISDN2) between November 2003 and October 2004.

Earlier reviews of the telecoms market had found that BT has Significant Market Power (SMP) in the wholesale business ISDN2 exchange line services market. As a result, Ofcom imposed certain conditions on BT including ensuring that its charges for providing WLR ISDN2 are "based on the forward looking long-run incremental costs of providing it", something challenged by Energis.

Announcing its draft decision today Ofcom said: "The Draft Determination requires BT to repay sums for an overpayment, the sum of £11.69 for each WLR ISDN2 provided to Energis between 28 November 2003 and 30 September 2004." Energis declined to say exactly how much it expected to received but said it was "under £1m".

Today's draft decision - to which responses must be submitted by 15 February - comes just 24 hours before BT's deadline to respond to Ofcom's demands for "substantive behavioural and organisational changes" within BT as part of the regulator's year-long review into the telecoms sector.

Failure to meet the demands set by Ofcom, could result in an Enterprise Act investigation which, in turn, could lead to the giant telco being split in two. Asked about Energis' Telecoms Review submission to the regulator, a spokeswoman said: "We'll be telling it like it is." ®

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