Ofcom lifts rules on BT sales

OFCOM said yesterday that it will remove the last piece of regulation that has prevented BT from selling discounted fixed-line voice, broadband and TV packages.<br /><br />Other network providers &ndash; such as Virgin Media, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse&rsquo;s TalkTalk &ndash; are already able to offer reduced rates to customers who take more than one of their services.<br /><br />Ofcom said it was the right time to remove one of the last restrictions on the former incumbent, 25 years after it was privatised, as it no longer had &ldquo;significant market power&rdquo;.<br /><br />The regulator said the other providers, that together serve 12m households and small businesses, effectively compete with BT, which has 14m fixed-line customers. It added that besides increasing choice, this competition had driven down prices.<br /><br />BT welcomed the announcement, saying it was good news for consumers and businesses.<br /><br />&ldquo;It means that BT will be competing on a more level playing field than previously,&rdquo; said BT retail chief executive Gavin Patterson.<br /><br />However, Ofcom said that it had concluded KCom still dominates the fixed-line market in the Hull area, and would therefore continue to be regulated. <br /><br />The watchdog also said it had decided to maintain regulation in most of BT&rsquo;s wholesale voice services.<br /><br />Shares in BT, which were also upgraded by Credit Suisse to &ldquo;outperform&rdquo;, rose by 4.7 per cent to 136.13p.