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Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 17:26 GMT
Fresh blow to BT
breaking news
British Telecom's rivals have won a key victory in the battle to provide broadband internet access as the telecoms regulator Oftel has found that BT has acted unreasonably.

Some operators have been saying that BT is deliberately obstructing them over access to the local exchanges, essential for providing high-speed internet access.

David Edmonds, director general of the watchdog, made several key proposals that should allow agreement to be reached between BT and its rivals.

He warned "BT will be in breach of its contract if it does not provide operators with the necessary services to the same timescale and quality that it does to its own business, without good reason".

Oftel's proposals

The conditions put forward by Oftel on Thursday include allowing operators the right to commission an independent survey of an exchange, where BT claims there is insufficient space.

If the survey finds there is enough room, then BT will have to pay compensation to the operator.

It also stipulated that operators should have the right to independent verification of BT's proposed charges for housing broadband DSL equipment.

And that BT should be "contractually bound" to meet time scales and service standards. If it fails to meet these levels, then it should pay compensation.

There is little doubt that these rulings will be a fresh blow to the beleaguered telecoms operator which is struggling against debt, stiff competition and pressure from the regulator to drop its prices.

Two weeks ago the company announced a big drop in profits and a radical restructuring plan to try to reduce its mountain of debt by 10bn next year.

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See also:

09 Nov 00 | Business
BT in 10bn shake up
09 Nov 00 | Business
The rise and fall of BT
19 Oct 00 | Business
BT confirms unmetered tariff
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