BT Prices Thwart Plan to Pipe TV Programs Via Phonelines

29 April 2004

As if to underscore recent charges of monopolism by BT [WAMN: 26-Apr-04], France Télécom-owned internet service Wanadoo has slammed the UK telecoms giant for obstructing its plan to transmit video-on-demand content via ordinary telephone lines.

Wannadoo (formerly FreeServe and recently rebranded in the image of its French parent), claims that BT's wholesale prices make it uneconomic to launch its planned VOD broadband service, and is urging watchdog Ofcom to force a cut in the fees charged by BT for providing access to local phone networks.

BT has a virtual monopoly of these networks, a windfall legacy from the days when it was a state-owned autocracy.

Says Wanadoo UK chief executive Eric Abensur: "We are not asking for any more than you can find in Spain, the Netherlands or France. BT is simply too expensive; in the UK the charge is about £4 a month, while in France it is around £1.20."

Although he has lobbied Ofcom and the Department of Trade and Industry, Abensur cryptically describes himself as "… not confident, but I am optimistic".

In which upbeat mindset he is more sanguine than many other BT customers.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff