Ofcom not tough enough on broadband, says TalkTalk

Broadband provider calls for tighter regulation as BT begins to dominate on fibre optic.

TalkTalk's chief executive has called for tighter regulation of the broadband market.

Dido Harding told The Daily Telegraph the UK's communications regulator Ofcom should intervene over the prices BT can charge its rival providers for access to its fibre optic broadband network.

She said new rules were needed to ensure that government investment delivers "value for money, rather than just funding a monopoly provider" in BT, which maintains Britain's national telecoms infrastructure and charges other companies to use it.

Harding said Ofcom should "oversee and assess" the wholesale price BT can charge for access to the fibre optic network, adding: "This will deliver real transparency and ensure that all the retail providers are competing on a level playing field."

Last month, Japanese electronics firm Fujitsu announced it would be withdrawing from the bidding process for rural superfast broadband contracts. The company's exit leaves BT as the one and only provider eligible for £530million of government investment.

Harding said: "Competition is something we must not take for granted. We should not and cannot lose sight of its importance because we are overly focused on chasing speed for speed's sake."

A BT spokesperson told broadbandchoices.co.uk: "The UK is making great progress with fibre and extra regulation isn't needed at this time.

"There is a level playing field and BT is the pro-competitive solution, because TalkTalk - like all providers - can access BT's fibre network on equal terms. This is something that is unique in the world, so it is misleading for them to suggest otherwise.

"TalkTalk clearly see fibre as a threat to their business model. We understand why some companies may wish to protect their existing copper assets, but the UK can't afford to let such luddites drive the agenda. Too much is at stake."

Sir Charles Dunstone, TalkTalk's chairman, has also called on Ofcom to step in. He told the Financial Times: "There is so much government money going into subsidising higher broadband speeds, but no one knows where it is going and how it is being spent."

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