BT seeking to ease burden of £80m-a-year public service remit
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Sunday 18 February 2007
Ben Verwaayen, the chief executive of BT, has called for a review of the universal service obligation that legally binds the company to provide basic telecoms services to British homes.
Speaking about the universal service obligation at the 3GSM telecoms convention, which was held in Barcelona last week, Mr Verwaayen said: "The regulator should think about regulating on service rather than technology."
Telecoms analysts said that his comments provide a clear indication that Mr Verwaayen wants other communications companies - including, for example, Vodafone and Cable & Wireless - to contribute to fulfilling BT's commitments to universal service.
One said: "The universal service obligation was created in 1984 when BT was privatised. But the world has moved on since then and there are now several other powerful and wealthy telecoms groups in the UK that could arguably share the load."
BT's universal service obligations include providing special tariffs for poorer customers; a connection to the fixed-line network, which includes functional internet access; reasonable geographic access to public call boxes, and a range of services for customers with disabilities, including the text relay service.
Kingston Communications, which owns the fixed-line network in and around Hull, has similar obligations in its operating area. It is believed the universal service obligation costs BT about £80m per year.
One alternative would be to create a fund to which every big telecoms player would contribute. However, analysts believe that such a fund would be complex to set up and administer.
Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog, completed a review of BT's operations last year. It is due to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of BT's universal service obligation later this year.
- 1 Autism 'caused by genetics', study suggests
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
- 4 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford plane crash: Star Wars actor 'seriously injured' after light aircraft crash lands
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...
£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...