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Ofcom to investigate BT over fibre broadband charges

The watchdog will explore whether BT is asking a fair price to rent its fibre cables to other Internet service providers.

BT could be in hot water over how much it charges other Internet service providers to access its fibre broadband network. TalkTalk has complained about what it says are sky-high prices, leading Ofcom to investigate, reports.

Rival TalkTalk claims BT is squeezing margins between its upstream costs and downstream prices.

"We expect to gather further information using our powers under the Competition Act 1998 and to analyse this information," Ofcom said in a statement. It added it would "consider whether BT has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law."

A spokesperson for TalkTalk said: "We have long maintained that there needs to be tighter regulation in superfast broadband to ensure a level playing field and therefore deliver real benefits for consumers and businesses. We are pleased that Ofcom is taking this matter seriously and have decided there is reasonable suspicion to investigate BT's fibre pricing."

BT said in a statement it is "disappointed" the case has been brought "despite any lack of evidence", dismissing it as "spurious".

Back in 2009, BT was given carte blanche by Ofcom to set whatever prices it saw fit for other ISPs to access its fibre network. This was in order to cover the investment in infrastructure and the risks associated with it. About 80 broadband providers rent BT's fibre cables, with TalkTalk the only one to complain. But then the two have a bit of history.

TalkTalk founder Sir Charles Dunstone and chief executive Dido Harding have complained BT is "rebuilding its monopoly" through its new network of fibre cables. BT boss Ian Livingston hit back, accusing the two of being "copper Luddites" who were too stubborn to invest in fibre. It's all a bit saucer of milk for table seven.

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