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BT tells industry to 'get on with life'

Verwaayen speaks

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BT boss Ben Verwaayen has told the rest of the UK's telecoms sector to "get on with life". Speaking to the Financial Times the Dutch chief exec of the UK's dominant fixed line telco once again told anyone who would listen just how much BT has done to "become a service company that does interesting things".

According to Verwaayen, BT will become an "innovation company" which will exploit its £10bn investment in its 21st century network (21CN) to provide new and exciting services.

And on the issue of the wide ranging telecoms review, Verwaayen also believes that BT has done enough to escape a move by Ofcom to seek the break-up of the former monopoly.

Indeed, on the issue of the telecoms review Verwaayen told the FT: "I think Ofcom has done a lot to get the level of discussion going to a level of much more intelligent debate and I think we have done our share by accepting responsibility and then getting on with life. And my invitation to the rest of the industry is the same."

Despite Verwaayen's gloss, there are still plenty in the industry who maintain that BT's dominance of the UK's telecoms sector is bad for competition.

One insider told The Register: "BT is using 21CN to get Ofcom to give it greater leeway in the telecoms review at the expense of competition."

What's more, it seems clear that Verwaayen doesn't believe Ofcom will carry out its threat of splitting up BT if the telco fails to meet demands for "substantive behavioural and organisational changes" - including giving rivals equal access to its wholesale products.

Quizzed by an influential group of MPs three weeks ago Verwaayen said such a move would be a "disaster". "Full structural separation," he said, "I cannot imagine that they would do it." ®

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