Broadband News

LLU Complaint to Oftel: Discriminatory action of BT in DSL rollout

Oftel have today published their findings of a series of complaints against BT over its discrimination in favour of BT Ignite over the rollout of DSL equipment in exchanges for Local Loop Unbundling. The complainants pointed out that

"by rolling out its DSL-based business independently of the other operators and providing access to MDF sites from which other competing operators are excluded it follows that:

(a) BT would be favouring that business to a material extent (by enabling that business to circumvent the Bow Wave Process* and to gain privileged access to sites which are closed to others);

(b) the favour is unfair (because it is not available to other operators)

(c) the favour is material (because it will give that business a considerable economic advantage);

(d) it would place the Operators, who are persons seeking to compete with that business in that market, at a significant competitive disadvantage (because they will be unable to compete on equal terms with the dominant incumbent operator); and

(e) BT therefore has acted in breach of Condition 83.24 [of its licence] and abused a dominant position."

* The industry designed Bow Wave process determined the order BT prepared exchanges in which competing operators wished to co-locate. It also set out the method for allocating space amongst operators in any exchange. The Bow Wave process has now been suspended.

In response to this complaint, Oftel has defended BT by failing to recognise a single market in which BT is offering its DSL services. Instead it has focused on the difference of each exchange in which BT excepts queries for co-location. Oftel has examined the information available and as such has determined that it doesn't happen on a national basis. Where it does happen, Oftel will take appropriate action.

EC regulation 2887/2000 requires that BT provide

"facilities equivalent to those provided for their own services or to their associated companies, with the same conditions and time-scales."

On this point, Oftel finds that BT has failed to produce the relevant information for it to make a judgement. However, I think it is quite evident that due to not having to take part in the Bow Wave process, having been testing their DSL products on the local loop for YEARS, and having started its DSL roll out in Early 2000, BT has a very evident advantage on timescales that it has not facilitated to other operators. Oftel have failed to recognise this as a whole, and as such I believe many of the complainants will be 'enraged' with this response Oftel have given. In a word: unsatisfactory.

The Oftel document can be found here. Comments can be made via our message boards.


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