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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Telecoms watchdog investigates BT
BT customers reading bills
Telco claims BT is hampering customers switching operators
Telecoms watchdog Oftel is investigating an allegation that British Telecom (BT) may have obstructed a rival phone firm's business.

Telco Global Communications (TGC) has complained to Oftel, saying that BT cancelled services to one of its clients without consent and that orders from some of its customers were not being processed.

TGC runs a service which allows its customers to choose the cheapest available phone operator and to switch to different operators for local, national and international calls.

BT has declined to comment on the inquiry, saying that it would not be appropriate to do so while the investigation was still taking place

Not just once

TGC's service uses no special equipment for dialling codes, but it depends upon BT processing the orders so that calls can be re-routed to other phone operators.


We've noticed in the last few months that an increased amount of what you could class as obstruction has been occurring

TGC

Oftel told BBC News Online that it had started an investigation into the complaint but that it was "too early to say how it would pan out".

However, a spokeswoman for Oftel said the group was also looking into the policy as a whole rather than just an isolated incident.

Obstruction?

TGC joint managing director Eli Katz has suggested the problem was wider than just one particular case.

"We've noticed in the last few months that an increased amount of what you could class as obstruction has been occurring," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the firm had received "a number of complaints in writing" from both business and domestic customers.

"We've had meetings with BT and we're pleased to say that they are dealing with individual cases but we've not felt that they are dealing with the underlying issues", said Mr Katz.

"We do have confidence in Oftel to identify whether this was a deliberate policy of dirty tricks or just incompetence," he added.

TGC is making a claim for damages against BT for lost revenue, said Mr Katz.


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