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Eurobites: BT Faces New Rules on Access Charges

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: TeliaSonera must wait on Tele2 deal; Finns unsure about online eavesdropping; jamming in the name of road safety.

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) could be forced to cut the wholesale cost of access to its "superfast" broadband infrastructure following the introduction of new measures by UK regulator Ofcom . In a move that is intended to promote competition and investment in the UK broadband market, Ofcom has notified the European Commission of a new pricing rule which requires BT to ensure that the margin between its wholesale charges and its retail superfast broadband prices is wide enough to give rivals such as Sky and TalkTalk a fair chance of competing. In an initial assessment, BT's charges have been given the all-clear, but under the new pricing rule, they will be re-assessed every six months, and if Ofcom concludes that BT is effectively enforcing a "margin squeeze," BT will be made to either raise its retail charges or cut its wholesale charges. (See Eurobites: BT Boost From Broadband Price Ruling.)

  • Telia Company 's proposed acquisition of Tele2 Norway, announced last July, has still not been cleared by the Norwegian Competition Authority, and a new deadline of February 5 has now been set. Tele2 decided to sell its Norwegian unit after failing to acquire the spectrum it felt it needed to compete.

  • Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications has rejected a proposal by the country's defense authorities to allow online surveillance of communications that travel through Finnish cables, reports YLE. The business lobby isn't too thrilled about the proposals either: Some Finnish cloud services providers use the fact that they are beyond the reach of intelligence agencies as a major selling point, adds the report.

  • The unconnected car, anyone? Arabian Business reports that the Central Municipal Council in Doha, Qatar's largest city, has recommended that mobile phone jammers should be fitted as standard to cars sold in the GCC area (which includes most of the countries on the Arabian Peninsula). Traffic accidents have been on the rise in Qatar, and the use of mobile phones has played a part in a "significant percentage" of these accidents, says the report.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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