The recent publication by UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom of its blueprint for telecoms regulation in the UK has provoked a warning from Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of dominant operator BT, that his company will not implement the recommended ‘behavioral and structural’ changes if the costs to BT are too high. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Verwaayen said that Ofcom’s demand for BT to afford its rivals ‘real equality of access to its network’ by February 2005 would not be heeded at any cost, adding that it would only be possible with ‘cooperation from the wider telecoms industry’.
Ofcom is demanding that products sold by BT’s monopoly network division to its consumer arm must be made available to rival telcos on identical terms. However, Mr Verwaayen has warned rival suppliers not to expect to get full access to all the products and services that it creates, saying ‘If equivalence means everything that is invented by BT must be available to everybody else then the answer is that’s not ‘equivalence’…… otherwise every invention that somebody in BT comes up with immediately goes to the rest of the world. That would be ridiculous’. Ofcom has said that it could refer BT to the UK Competition Commission if it failed to introduce adequate internal controls.