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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 13:10 GMT
Broadband rules could be scrapped
Ethernet connector, Eyewire
The regulations impose limits on dominant suppliers
Rules covering broadband firms could soon be scrapped in some UK regions.

The European Commission has given permission for the regulations to lapse following a review of competition among broadband wholesalers in the UK.

The review revealed that in 64% of UK markets competition was fierce enough to prevent any broadband wholesaler winning a dominant position.

Following the review, regulator Ofcom said its final decision about scrapping regulations would come later in 2008.

Dominant position

Ofcom imposes regulations on companies which offer wholesale broadband services that telecoms firms then re-sell to consumers for home internet access.

The regulations were first brought in to guard against former monopoly BT getting a stranglehold on the market and to encourage new entrants into the telecoms and net-access sector.

The Commission said in a statement that in many parts of Britain, BT faces competition from four or more other wholesalers who have installed their own equipment in telephone exchanges.

"For many of these areas ex-ante regulation is no longer warranted", said Neelie Kroes, competition commissioner at the EC.

The Commission review found that there were, or about to be, four or more competitors in 64% of UK regions - typically around exchanges which serve 10,000 or more premises.

"In those places there's not the opportunity for a single provider to discriminate and act against the best interests of the consumer," said an Ofcom spokeswoman.

Regions would remain under review in case one supplier became dominant.

'Green light'

Ms Kroes added that the Commission had responded to a consultation about Ofcom's proposal to scrap regulations and welcomed the "unprecedented" backing the regulator had won.

The consultation process still had some time to run and, once it was complete, Ofcom would issue its final decision.

"The Commission has given us the green light but our proposals are still proposals," she said.

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