TalkTalk promise cheap fibre, but only if BT cuts wholesale costs

CEO Dido Harding says her company would like to offer cheap fibre broadband, but would only be able to do so if BT was forced to charge other providers less for access to its superfast network.

TalkTalk's boss has taken a swipe at BT, accusing the company of charging rival providers "double what it should" for their use of its superfast broadband network.

Dido Harding, TalkTalk CEO, said "not enough" households are currently upgrading to fibre optic broadband because of excessive prices, for which she's' blaming BT.

Earlier this year, the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, proposed new rules to ensure that BT maintains sufficient price margins, between its wholesale fees for others providers and how much it charges customers for its own BT Infinity fibre broadband.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Harding pledged that if Ofcom's proposals result in lower costs, then TalkTalk will "pass on any price cuts" to customers.

It's the latest in a long-running dispute between TalkTalk and BT, which is in charge of maintaining, and still largely controls, the national telephone and broadband infrastructure.

Sky and EE are two other providers that, like TalkTalk, pay BT a wholesale fee to be able to provide superfast broadband using fibre optic cable installed by BT, to replace slower copper telephone wire, at a cost of around £2.5billion.

But BT's having none of it and snapped back, accusing TalkTalk of trying to stall the UK's progress on broadband speeds - possibly because it makes bigger profits off slower packages.

A spokesman for BT said: "TalkTalk are after a free ride when it comes to fibre optic broadband.

"BT's wholesale fibre prices are among the lowest in Europe and TalkTalk have benefited from those to make a profit from fibre.

"The UK would be much better served if TalkTalk invested themselves, rather than playing regulatory games to try and keep the UK stuck in the copper slow lane."

If Ofcom's proposals go ahead, BT will still be able to decide how much it charges others providers, but there will have to be enough of a difference between its wholesale fees and what it charges BT broadband customers, to stop it from pricing its rivals out of the market.

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