Sky, EE, Virgin Media and others want Ofcom to probe BT

Sky, EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone are among a band of firms challenging BT’s monopoly over business broadband with an Ofcom probe into the situation a very real prospect.

The UK Competitive Telecommunications Association [UKCTA] is made up of BT’s various competitors and wants Ofcom to force the firm to allow other companies to use its network of ducts to lay pipes.

In addition it is calling for BT to allow its competitors to control BT cables when delivering service over them and that it would improve service whilst at the same time acting as a trigger for innovation.

“Ofcom has now moved from competition to intrusive sector-specific consumer protection measures, often duplicating general consumer protection measures. UKCTA calls on Ofcom to return its focus to championing competition, which will drive innovation and enhance choice and the protection of consumers,” read a UKCTA statement.

BT responded to the comments by stating that forcing Openreach, its network business, to open up access ducts has the potential to increase costs, and to improve its service it has already began to publish its own service performance information.

The latter point addresses another of the UKCTA’s complaints that consumers are often left in the dark in terms of who to blame when the network goes down with most of the flak reserved for the company delivering the service.

"The UK already has the most competitive broadband market of any major European country," an Ofcom spokesperson told Reuters. "Our job is to ensure that customers benefit not only from innovation, but also from good quality of service and a fair deal.”

It’s the second time this year that BT has been accused of holding a monopoly over some kind of broadband. In April an investigation by the Public Accounts Committee and its chair, Margaret Hodge MP, stated that BT used its £1.2 billion of funding for the rural broadband rollout to bully consumers.