Regulator to rule on 'discriminatory' dispute
By Tim Richardson
Published Friday 10th February 2006 12:17 GMT
BT Openreach is facing its first formal investigation by telecoms regulator Ofcom - less than a month after the official launch of BT's access services division.
Openreach installs and maintains telecoms services on behalf of the UK's phone companies and ISPs and its creation was part of a regulatory deal with Ofcom following last year's strategic review of the UK's telecoms sector.
As part of that deal, Openreach is "committed to ensuring all communications providers have transparent and equivalent access to the local BT network" in the "same even-handed way".
Now, though, it's emerged that Opal Telecom - part of Carphone Warehouse which is keen to invest in LLU - has called on the regulator to resolve a dispute between it and Openreach.
Its beef concerns the rate charged by Openreach for the bulk migration of fully unbundled lines, as opposed to shared lines, claiming that this is "discriminatory" and in breach of Openreach's "obligations".
According to the investigation, which was opened on 3 February: "Opal has claimed that the refusal by Openreach to extend the offer rate of £20 per customer line (offered for migration in bulk of customer lines to 'shared' loops, or 'shared bulk migration') to full MPF is discriminatory, in contravention of Openreach's obligations under its Significant Market Power Conditions, set following Ofcom's review of the wholesale local access market. Following failure to resolve the matter through commercial negotiation, Opal has referred the matter to Ofcom for resolution."
No one from Opal was available for comment at the time of writing. A spokeswoman for Openreach said it was cooperating with the investigation.