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BT Openworld and BT Retail move the chess pieces
Tuesday 10 December 2002 18:15:00 by Andrew Ferguson

As widely reported in the IT and mainstream press BT Openworld is to give some of its operations over to BT Retail. It appears that the access products will remain under the BT Openworld banner along with its portal services. The components moving to BT Retail appear to be enterprises like sportal.com, GamesDomain and DotMusic and customer services.

In theory customers of BT Openworld ADSL should see no difference, though they may notice differences in customer service over time, as this is moving over to BT Retail. No official announcement has appeared on whether the existing third party call centres will be used or whether support at BT Retail will just grow to take care of the BT Openworld customers.

Financially, it is said that this move will save BT £10m, additionally since BT Openworld will be a sub-division of BT Retail it will no longer be forced to publish the full accounts - critics say that this means the loss making Openworld division will be less noticeable.

At present there is little concrete information, and plenty of confusion. It is certain that ISPs will be watching closely, is this a move by BT to ensure that it remains the dominant ISP in the UK broadband market place? BT believe that the situation should not concern Oftel, since it is allowed to do this rearrangement under the terms of the licence it has. What is certain is that a number of ISPs are likely to contest this.

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