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Whose view of the UK broadband market is right?
Wednesday 23 June 2004 11:29:00 by Andrew Ferguson

ZDNet UK has another body calling for Ofcom to act on what is viewed as a lack of transparency on BTs part. The The UK Competitive Telecommunications Association (UKCTA), which comprises of AT&T, Centrica, Cable & Wireless, Colt, Energis, Easynet, Fibernet, Global Crossing, Kingston, MCI, NTL, Opal Telecom, Opera Telecom, Redstone, Telco Global, Telefonica, Thus, Tiscali and Your Communications is claiming BT is still in a position to block effective competition in the marketplace.

The other side of the coin is that BT considers the UK Broadband market place to be very competitive. Its Retail arms do have just under 50% of the DSL market place, but then as Telewest and NTL are keen to point out often, once you include cable broadband it is not so dominant in the retail sector.

So who is the good guy, and who is the bad guy? Well it probably depends on what your vested interests are. A home user of broadband will just want a cheap service that is reliable and does what it says on the tin, with the current round of price cutting that is going on, this appears to be the case. The business user is paying a premium in the UK market, though that does vary widely from ISP to ISP, perhaps lack of advertising for the small to medium ISPs in the wider market place is an issue for business services.

The other group is BTs rival operators, it is very likely that the loyalty of any operator (including BT) will be towards their own balance sheet, so if some serious lobbying does provide larger margins they are happy. Whether this translates into better, faster, cheaper more widely available services to the end-user only time can ever tell. Currently if one was to study a variety of the wholesale providers of ADSL, and this includes those reselling Datastream services (e.g. Telefonicia, Tiscali etc), then BT is a lot more open on its pricing structures and a lot more regulated.

Ofcom has a difficult job with its Strategic Review of the Telecommunications market, is it regulating a market so that various shareholders can benefit from high profits, or regulating a market that benefits the end-user of the service?


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