Oftel looks at case for equal access

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OFTEL, the telecommunications regulator, is to analyse the benefits of equal access, which would allow people to dial into any long-distance network over the BT local wires, writes Mary Fagan.

Customers could either pre-select a long-distance carrier for all their calls or dial extra digits each time they made a call to choose the network they wanted.

Oftel said many had argued that equal access would offer better choice and be fairer to new long- distance network operators, including Energis, the telecommunications arm of the National Grid Company.

However, the regulator also said there was a view that the growth of new local networks made equal access over BT wires less necessary.

Mercury argued for years for the introduction of equal access but now says it no longer needs it. The company has established a system under which people can link into Mercury long-distance by dialling 132.