BT has hit out at industry regulator Ofcom for imposing what it described as “unfair” rules on Britain’s biggest telecom company, claiming that they benefit rivals such as BSkyB and TalkTalk who gain wholesale access to its network at “artificially low prices”.
The telecom giant spoke out after Ofcom ordered BT’s Openreach division must carry out repairs and installations “faster” for other telecom providers that use its phone and broadband network — or face the threat of fines.
The regulator demanded Openreach must ensure 80% of repair work takes place “within one or two working days” and cannot use excuses such as “severe weather conditions”.
Ofcom said it was “concerned about the time it can take for Openreach to complete this work” after “acute” problems in 2012 during “extremely wet weather conditions”.
The regulator has also proposed new prices, insisting BT cannot push through any “significant” increase.
BT retorted that the “prices being proposed are insufficient to fund the higher level of service”.
It added: “BT is disappointed that Ofcom wants to extend the unfair regime whereby third parties benefit from cheaper wholesale prices than BT Retail. TalkTalk and Sky have benefited from artificially low prices for many years now and it is time they were forced to compete on a level playing field.”
Espirito Santo bank reckoned Ofcom’s changes were “a modest net negative for BT” as it may “incur some additional costs”.
Openreach is headed by Liv Garfield, who is leaving next year to run Severn Trent.