Telcos demand action from Ofcom over BT's UK broadband stronghold

Ofcom is being called upon to reduce BT's hold over the UK market by introducing initiatives that would see access to its networking infrastructure shared amongst its competitors.

In a new series of reports by the UK Competitive Telecommunications Association (UKCTA), which counts EE, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone as members, it states that Ofcom must do more to boost competition within the UK telecoms market, and improve the level of service offered to business users.

In the case of the latter, Ofcom is accused of having a "regulatory bias" towards the needs of residential users, which means business users lose out.

To help remedy this, it's calling for access to BT's passive infrastructure to be opened up to all providers. This would allow them to lay their own cables in the telco giant's ducts and improve overall levels of connectivity to business users, it is claimed.

Furthermore, it's also calling for more pressure to be applied to BT with regard to the performance of its Openreach arm, as failings in this area can have a knock-on effect for other suppliers.

This is because many of them have to rely on Openreach to deliver their own broadband and telephony services to customers.

Domhnall Dods, a telecoms lawyer from UKCTA, said efforts have been made to open up competition within parts of the telecoms sector, but more needs to be done.

"Thirty years ago we saw the start of a new era in the UK telecommunications market. Although increased competition now helps manage the issues of pricing and consumer protection in today's broadband market, the greater issue of BT's market dominance remains," said Dods.

"We believe Ofcom and its new CEO should review its agenda and target the root causes of this remaining market power, including the way the core BT platform is regulated. The UK's consumers and businesses cannot afford for Ofcom to ignore the problems identified in these reports."

In a statement to Reuters, a BT spokesperson downplayed the reports' findings by declaring the UK has a "vibrant wholesale business connectivity market" with good levels of competition and innovation.

An Ofcom representative also told the site the work it does goes "hand-in-hand" with promoting competition.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.