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British Telecom Wins Competition Showdown

Phone BoxIn a ruling of enormous significance to the telecommunications industry, a group of providers has failed to convince the UK Competition Appeals Tribunal that more needs to be done to create a level playing field and tackle the ‘significant market power’ of British Telecommunications plc (BT).

Following an in-depth investigation of the competitive landscape within the industry, the Office of Communications (OFCOM), whilst accepting that the BT wielded significant market power, had decided against imposing ‘passive remedies’ upon the company – effectively requiring it to share its physical network assets, including ducts, poles and unlit fibre, with competitors and new entrants into the market.

In challenging the decision, members of the group argued that granting them access to such important elements of BT’s infrastructure would bring real public benefits and enable them to build their own networks at a fraction of the cost without the need to duplicate the equipment that BT already has in place.

However, in dismissing the group’s challenge, the Tribunal rejected arguments that OFCOM’s decision contained errors of fact and law. The regulator had carried out an open, rigorous and fair consultation process, had taken careful account of responses and had ‘asked itself the right questions’ before exercising its discretion to decline to impose passive remedies on BT.