BT's High-Speed Broadband Plan is Hamstrung by Regulator

25 November 2008

LONDON: UK telecoms giant BT is being "a little bit hampered by regulatory detail" in its efforts to develop a new high-speed broadband network, according to the company's ceo, Ian Livingston.

BT announced its plans to develop the £1.5 billion ($2.3bn; €1.8bn) optical fibre broadband network in June, and it is argued that such a system could boost the competitiveness of the UK economy.

Ofcom, the UK's telecommunications regulator, is currently undertaking a review of the framework within which the system would operate.

BT had originally hoped the review would be finished by the end of 2008, but it now looks like it will extend well into next year.

The delay means the company is slipping behind Virgin Media, which plans to offer download speeds almost double BT's current optimum level by the end of 2008.

Speaking at an investor conference in Barcelona, Livingston said: "In terms of Ofcom, it is fair to say we have been talking in depth, and Ofcom has been very open and engaged but we do have to make some decisions.

"We certainly found the customers we talk to probably more enthusiastic than the regulator on some of the details."

In a consultation paper issued in September this year, Ofcom said it may lift the cap which currently limits how much BT can charge rival companies for using its broadband network.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff