BT may hike rivals' bills to cut its pension deficit

THE telecoms regulator may allow BT to charge its rivals more for using its broadband and telephone lines to help it cut its &pound;9.4bn pension deficit.<br /><br />Ofcom said it would consult on whether to take into account BT&rsquo;s payments to cut its deficit when setting prices for its wholesale arm Openreach.<br /><br />Charges to firms such as Carphone Warehouse, BSkyB and Virgin Media could rise four per cent if Ofcom decides in favour of BT.<br /><br />&ldquo;Due to the financial significance of these payments in BT&rsquo;s case, Ofcom considers it right to consult on whether or how such payments should be factored in,&rdquo; Ofcom said.<br /><br />Ofcom accounts for BT&rsquo;s pension costs, but excludes any extra payments to cut its deficit when setting prices.<br /><br />Ofcom said the postal, energy and water regulators allowed for some deficit recovery in regulated charges.<br /><br />BT said it was &ldquo;entirely reasonable&rdquo; to redeem some of its deficit in charges. But a BSkyB spokesman said:&ldquo;This would be a reward for failure that discourages BT from managing down its deficit.&rdquo;<br /><br />Ofcom plans more consultation on BT pension costs next spring and will make a statement later in the year.