UK telecoms regulator Oftel ruled yesterday that British Telecommunications, the dominant force in the sector, must provide a new wholesale internet access product to its rivals –opening the former state monopoly’s network to all comers at a flat monthly rate as from February 1 2001.

At present, rival operators pay on a ‘per-minute’ basis for access to BT’s network – a rate structure that effectively prevents competitors from offering consumers reasonably priced flat rate internet access. This non-viable structure has resulted in some competitors, including AltaVista of the US, pulling their “free internet access” packages – in extreme cases driving them out of business.

Said Oftel director-general David Edmonds: “Oftel’s proposals will give a major boost to the availability of unmetered internet access for consumers. These measures should allow millions of people to have unlimited access to the Internet without running up high call charges.”

News source: The Times (London)