BT and Ofcom strike a deal

24 Jun 2005

UK incumbent BT has agreed to further open its network in a bid to avoid being hauled before the competition watchdog by the country’s regulator Ofcom. BT will set up a new, decentralised, 30,000-strong business unit, provisionally titled Access Services, to oversee the opening up of its PSTN to rivals. The new unit will be monitored by a four-member supervisory board headed by a BT non-executive director, Carl Symon, and consisting of a three independent members. All of Access Services’ undertakings are legally enforceable, leaving the telco open to court proceedings should it fall short of expectations. Prior to Ofcom’s acceptance of its proposals, BT faced the possibility of being forced to break up its businesses. While some consumer groups expressed disappointment that the telecoms giant has kept its assets intact, most were supportive of Ofcom’s handling of the situation. However, the regulator’s chief, Stephen Carter, warned BT that it still had a long way to go: ‘The Ofcom Board proposes to accept BT Group’s proposed undertakings on the critical assumption that it does not merely deliver the letter of the undertakings, but also the spirit,’ he said in a statement.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach)