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Oftel Confirm BTO NOT Anti-Competitive
By: MarkJ - 21 November, 2003 (9:31 AM)

Oftel has today completed its reassessment of a complaint from UK ISP Freeserve that rival BTOpenworldís consumer broadband pricing policies were anti-competitive:

After completing the reinvestigation, Oftel has confirmed its original decision published on 21 May 2002 that BTOpenworldís pricing policies at that time did not amount to an anti-competitive margin squeeze by BT.

Freeserve made its original complaint about BTOpenworldís pricing policies to Oftel in March 2002. In September 2002 it subsequently appealed against Oftelís original decision to the then Competition Commission Appeal Tribunals.

The Tribunal found in favour of Oftel on three of the four elements of Freeserveís appeal, but on the fourth said that Oftel had given insufficient explanation of why it had concluded that there was no evidence of a margin squeeze.

Oftel has now completed a full reassessment of the case and has reached the same conclusion.

Peter Waller, Deputy Director General of Telecommunications, said today: "Oftel has carried out a thorough reinvestigation, and found no evidence to support Freeserveís allegation.

The Tribunal did not challenge the original verdict of Oftelís investigation, but said we had given insufficient explanation of how we had reached our decision.

As well as re-examining all the evidence, Oftel has set out a framework applicable to a margin squeeze investigation which can be used to inform the analysis of margin squeezes in other cases. Clearly future margin squeeze allegations will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis on their own merits.

This concludes one of Oftel's final investigations. It underlines the importance we attach to fair competition in the broadband market, backed by regulatory decisions underpinned by the most thorough analysis of market conditions at the time.

A confidential copy of the completed investigation report has been sent to BT. A non-confidential version will shortly be available on the OFT and Oftel websites.

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