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Ofcom probes BT broadband prices

Ofcom is proposing cutting what BT charges for leasing its telecoms lines, which could result in drastic price cuts for those who buy them – such as broadband operators, schools and libraries. The UK regulator said that the savings could be passed on to consumers.

It follows a review that found the former state monopoly had “significant” market power. BT said that more regulation could potentially damage investment in infrastructure.

“These are proposals for discussion, so we’ll be making our views known to Ofcom. We don’t expect a final decision for some time,” the company said in a statement. “We believe there should be less regulation in this market, not more, as businesses already have diverse and growing choice amongst a large number of providers.”

The consultation – which runs until July – will consider a form of charge control that aims to bring prices down over a three-year period.

The charge controls relate to two groups of services – older leased lines that offer speeds up to 8Mbps and newer Ethernet lines that offer speeds up to 1Gbp.

Ofcom is also proposing that companies providing leased lines should be granted access to BT’s networks through a process known as dark fibre. This would involve BT giving competitors physical access to its fibre-optic cables, allowing them to take direct control of the connection.

Ofcom expects to publish its decision in the first quarter of next year, with any price cuts coming into effect in April 2016.

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