BT asks UK gov't for reduced broadband regulations

LONDON (11/11/2003) - BT Group plc has asked the U.K. Trade and Industry select committee to reduce the regulations placed on it over the rollout of broadband, providing proof that it has made huge progress with the delivery of high-speed internet access to date and should therefore have sanctions lifted.

The U.K.'s Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), for example, forced BT to provide wholesale versions of its products to enable other companies to compete over its networks. It also placed restrictions on pricing.

The telco has requested that a "different regulatory environment" is imposed to create new opportunities for funding and innovation. Watchdog Oftel imposed a series of restrictions on BT following complaints of monopolistic behavior from other service providers.

But BT points to a statement from Stephen Timms, minister of state at the DTI, who described the U.K. broadband market as "more competitive than its European G7 neighbors".

BT has approximately 50 percent of the wholesale market, with cable companies competing strongly for the other 50 percent. At retail level, on the other hand, the telco has 25 percent market share with around 150 ISPs competing for the other 75 percent.

However, despite Britain's obvious headway with broadband rollout the request is bound to incite BT's rivals which have fought long and hard to create a level playing field. If the committee does find in flavor of BT then a flood of complaints are bound to start filtering through to Oftel.

The report, submitted by BT, gave the telco a chance to pat itself on the back, with the U.K. now the second largest broadband market in Europe as well as the fastest growing "by a significant margin".

Almost 80 percent of U.K. residents now have access to a broadband-enabled exchange.

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