Bulldog attacks BT over slow repair times

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The Independent Online

BT Group has been dragged into an investigation over how long it takes to repair faults on customers' lines, following a formal complaint to the telecoms adjudicator, the dispute resolution office established last year by Ofcom.

BT Group has been dragged into an investigation over how long it takes to repair faults on customers' lines, following a formal complaint to the telecoms adjudicator, the dispute resolution office established last year by Ofcom.

The complaint has been made by Bulldog Communications, the high-speed internet provider and telecoms group owned by Cable & Wireless. Bulldog claims the dispute threatens the success of its business in the UK.

The company claims that BT Retail is offering its customers a repair time of eight working hours through services supplied by BT Wholesale, the part of BT that operates the country's core network infrastructure. BT Wholesale is supposed to give all companies that use its network that same level of service.

But the complaint claims that BT Wholesale is offering a repair time of 28 working hours - three and a half days - to BT Retail's rivals, such as Bulldog.

The disputeover repair times and the adjudicator's decision is seen by the telecoms industry as central to making sure BT treats its wholesale customers in the same way as it treats BT Retail, a notion called equivalence by BT's rivals.

The issue is crucial to the deployment of broadband internet connections in the UK using so-called local loop unbundling (LLU). This allows ISPs to gain access to BT's local exchanges and install their own equipment to take control of the final stretch of copper wire connecting individual homes and businesses to the national telecoms network operated by BT.

Bulldog's complaint letter, written by Diane Mills, its head of strategic planning and regulatory affairs, said: "BT's response to the fault repair statement of requirement, delivered on 4 November 2004, failed to deliver parity between LLU fault repair levels and those available to BT on both a wholesale and retail basis."

A spokeswoman for BT said: "We are aware there is a complaint and we are looking into it. We intend to get back to Peter Black [the telecoms adjudicator] by the deadline on Friday."

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