David Edmonds

The director general of Oftel, the telecoms regulator, responds to an article by Bill McIntosh, who criticised Oftel's failure to force BT to open up its local networks
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The Independent Online

The Independent questioned my ability to ensure that BT's network is opened up to competition for the delivery of new high-speed services ("Oftel shambles", 19 September).

The Independent questioned my ability to ensure that BT's network is opened up to competition for the delivery of new high-speed services ("Oftel shambles", 19 September).

Let me ask two questions in return. Who proposed and fought through the plans to unbundle BT's local loop? Who enabled the growth of unmetered internet access to take off in the UK?

In both cases the answer is Oftel. As director general, my commitment is to secure a telecommunications infrastructure for the UK that gives us high-quality services at world-beating prices.

I set out a challenging timetable to open up BT's local network to allow other operators to install their own equipment in BT's exchanges to provide services such as fast internet access and video on demand.

This year, I brought into force a new condition in BT's licence to require them to provide space and facilities for other operators' equipment, giving me the powers to intervene if any problems threaten to delay the timetable.

Oftel's work to drive forward local loop unbundling and keep to our challenging timetable is proof of my determination.

AOL has launched a new, unmetered internet access service. This uses a wholesale product that Oftel recently required BT to introduce for internet access in competition to services launched by the cable operators, BT and others.

Companies are also taking advantage of my requirement on BT to allow other service providers to use its new, high-speed ADSL technology to deliver fast internet access and video on demand over its network.

Effective competition is vital in order for the UK telecoms market to flourish. I will protect this rigorously with swift intervention whenever it is needed.

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