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BT asks Ofcom what does 'equivalence' mean?
Monday 06 December 2004 17:38:00 by Andrew Ferguson

The BT CEO Ben Verwaayen has been talking to the Financial Times, about the recent communiques from Ofcom. Details of the newspaper item can be found on The Register. It would appear that Mr Verwaayen is concerned that Ofcoms latest call for BT to give rival operators equal access to its products and services may hit BT hard financially.

Certainly one can see any company wanting to have some clarification on what this really means, and what implications this has for future product releases. An example would be, if BT was to fibre up part of the UK and start to offer broadcast TV services over to households, that the BT group would be forced to provide this as a wholesale service to other operators. This would seem to be unfair, as NTL and Telewest are not currently forced to provide what effectively amount to a monopoly of provision for cable TV services in the UK.

Of course BT is not a big friendly cuddly toy, they are a commercial concern now, and one must expect them to resist anything that may eat into what are seen as their profit margins. Almost every other company would react in a similar manner, including those who complain bitterly about BT. Ofcom is stuck as the piggy in the middle, with pressure from many sides, and almost no matter what it does, it will not fit in with some companies business plans. We just hope that BT is given the freedom to innovate, otherwise the glimmers of life seen now and then from BT will disappear, and the UK broadband infrastructure will end up a messy patchwork quilt that is falling apart.

Perhaps the key, is that the UK needs a clearly defined and coherent vision for the next ten years and beyond. We think many would agree that this should be an industry vision, and not one conjured up by a government. This will mean cooperation rather than confrontation from the major players - something that appears to not be happening at present.

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