Ofcom releases details of BT settlement

Telco will still need to be policed

Ofcom has fleshed out proposals to increase competition in the UK's telecoms sector by providing rivals with greater access to BT's network.

It has released a stack of detailed documentation that relates to the new regulatory deal with BT, which saves the UK's former telco monopoly from dismemberment.

Central to the deal is the creation of a new Access Services Division within BT which will provide access products - such as line rental and local loop unbundling (LLU) - on an "equal basis" to all telcos including BT Retail.

Such is the complexity that many in the industry are waiting to examine the detail before making a definitive judgement.

That includes telecoms trade group UKCTA which is is getting its lawyers to read the small print.

Said UKCTA spokesman Huw Saunders: "The undertakings offered by BT to Ofcom - in lieu of a reference to the Competition Commission - in the consultation document published today are complex and of vital importance for the future of both consumers and the UK communications industry.

"UKCTA will therefore be sitting down with its lawyers to scrutinise the undertakings in order to get to grips with what is proposed."

And even though UKCTA has yet to examine the agreement in detail the trade group believes it will put even more pressure on Ofcom to ensure that BT plays by the rules.

"One of Ofcom's key aspirations set out at the start of the Reviews was to be able to create a stable regulatory environment and then scale down regulatory activities."

"However, UKCTA notes that since the undertakings are between BT and Ofcom, the regulator will need more vigilance than ever to ensure that they are implemented.

"It seems that rather than being able to step back from regulating the industry, Ofcom will have to put on its policeman's hat and start patrolling the perimeter," Suanders said. ®

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