Europe lagging on telecoms deregulation, says BT

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Sir Peter Bonfield, chief executive of BT, yesterday warned that Europe risked falling further behind fast-growing Asian economies unless Continental countries speeded up the deregulation of telephones networks.

Sir Peter was launching a campaign alongside BT's US partner, MCI, for greater competition in telecommunications markets, with research showing a good telecoms infrastructure was the third most important factor for multinational corporations when making investment decisions.

The survey conducted by the polling organisation Gallup of 327 of the world's largest businesses showed multi-media and phone links were considered more important than the quality of a country's transport network, the level of technology available or the extent of government backing.

Only political stability and the availability of a skilled workforce were ranked higher than good phone and multi-media links by the corporations questioned. BT claimed that traditional priorities for firms, such as raw materials and the cost of investment capital, were being pushed further and further down the priority list as companies sought to expand across national boundaries.

However, far more Asian businesses put critical emphasis on Telecom's links than European companies.

Sir Peter suggested this meant European firms were much less far-sighted.