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Ofcom pulls plug on wholesale broadband regulation

For most of the UK

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Communications regulator Ofcom is ending regulation for the majority of UK wholesale broadband.

Some 70 per cent of exchanges, about 10,000 premises, which have four or more providers of wholesale internet access will be freed from regulation.

Areas with less than four providers such as Hull will continue to be regulated - BT and Kcom in Hull will still have to provide a wholesale product to retail suppliers at a fair and reasonable rate.

A spokeswoman for BT welcomed the changes, and said it could mean better deals and more flexibility from BT Wholesale. Whether price cuts are passed onto consumers will of course be the decision of retail broadband providers.

James Blessing, chair of the broadband sub-group at Ispa (Internet Services Providers Association), told the Reg: "It is good that Ofcom has recognised the market has changed. But what happens next depends on what BT does with this freedom. Most observers see the price of the last mile, and therefore the headline price, falling. But the real concern for Ispa members is the price of bandwidth because catch-up TV means bandwidth usage by subscriber has gone up by 40 to 50 per cent. We're likely to see more mergers and acquistions in this market."

The move was backed by EU regulators in February. Ofcom's statement is here. ®

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