5/3/2013 11:25:24 AM
Union slams Ofcom broadband pricing investigation
Ofcom's investigation into the fairness of BT's superfast broadband pricing risks holding up essential investment, Prospect union warned this week.
The union for managers and professionals in the IT and telecoms sector said the Ofcom investigation, being held at the request of TalkTalk, reinforces an erroneous view that BT has a monopoly in providing superfast broadband.
Deputy General Secretary Dai Hudd said: ‘The UK desperately needs investment in superfast broadband for social, economic and employment reasons. Ofcom's primary task should be to ensure that we get it. This investigation won't move us any closer to achieving the superfast broadband infrastructure that we need, so there is no purpose in conducting it. Furthermore, there is no case to answer.’
Hudd said that BT is already required to sell access to superfast broadband to all other suppliers on transparent and equal terms to those used when selling to its own retail arm. It does so to some 80 service providers.
He added: ‘We welcome investment in network supply. But instead of complaining about the perceived shortcomings of the only significant investor we have, perhaps TalkTalk should consider building its own network - and, of course, open it up to all retail service providers as BT is compelled to.’
The union fears the investigation will delay the roll-out of BT's investment programme, at the same time sending the wrong message to investors.
It argues that investing in superfast broadband requires accepting a low, slow, rate of return that the private sector would not usually accept. ‘We celebrate the fact that a private investor is prepared to accept the risk but this investigation could undermine that,’ Hudd said.