UK telecoms regulator Oftel on Friday set out its proposals to force BT to charge a flat rate for use of its network.

The watchdog unveiled the legal framework for its plans to allow easy access to the BT network for rival ISPs a month before the consultation period comes to a close.

Commented Oftel’s director-general David Edmonds: “The proposals will encourage greater use of the internet by allowing consumers to surf the internet without clocking up large telephone bills”.

BT seemed surprised at the announcement, stating, “It is extremely unusual for a draft direction to be published so soon after the launch of a consultation.” The company added: “We will continue to work on our response to Oftel's original proposals and deliver it by the deadline of December 8”.

Like their German counterparts Deutsche Telekom, BT has warned that unmetered access could overload the network. It also fears that the move might discourage rivals from investing in the network themselves.

News source: Financial Times, BBC Online Business News (UK)