BT Should Give Rivals High-Speed Access Under EC Rules

Ofcom would have to consider whether BT (NYSE: BT) should open its forthcoming higher-speed broadband lines to competitors, under proposed European Commission rules.

The commission is recommending that rules governing the emerging next-generation broadband services – specifically, those around competitor access to infrastructure and wholesaling of broadband access – should be developed through a “common approach” across the continent. If national telco regulators like Ofcom find that a dominant telco like BT has significant market power over the faster lines, they should assess whether competitors should get access to both the ducts that carry lines and access to the lines under wholesale agreements.

That includes parts of fibre-to-the-home roll-outs like those BT has been doing in trial areas. On the higher-speed network it is currently building, BT would need to offer an equivalent of the IPStream and Datastream services through which it currently gives rivals wholesale access to its existing copper-wire network.

Next-gen broadband speeds were barely mentioned in the draft Digital Britain report, but Ofcom had already been making progress on urging BT to open its network, despite its own heavy investment. The European Commission has put out its recommendation to consultation by email, as it tries to ensure similar opening up across the continent. Release.

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