Feeds

back to article BT charged rivals 'unjustified' prices to use network – Appeals Court

The prices that BT charged rivals to access parts of its network to provide services to their subscribers were not justified, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The Court rejected claims by BT that the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) had not acted in accordance with EU telecoms laws when it considered whether what it had charged …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge
Facepalm

When BT updated the exchange where I live to fibre my broadband speed dropped considerably, BT is not my broadband supplier.

Since this upgrade I also get an unsolicited letter a week offering me BT fibre broadband.

Is something going on here? I think it is.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

You may be dealing with a violation of the Data Protection Act 1998: use of personal data for purposes other than indicated at the time of collection. Might want to follow it up in that way - BT (and others) do get nervous when you lob that at them because they really, really, really do not like the supervision..

Personally, I put letters like that back in the post with a label over the address, but without postage. The idea is that only when it starts to cost something, companies will pay attention.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I wouldn't be surprised. When will people realise the former public utilities behave badly, overcharge and stifle competition.

Just because their competition isn't much better in terms of service doesn't mean BT should be let off the hook. They are sitting on a huge infrastructure which should be free for anyone to use so long as they contribute to its up keep.

2
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

> When BT updated the exchange where I live to fibre my broadband speed dropped considerably, BT is not > my broadband supplier.

They might not be the broadband supplier but they do own and maintain your telephone line. Most likely the installation of the new cabinet disturbed your existing wiring. I don't think cables in the existing cabinet are touched until/unless you take the service but anyone undertaking ground works and installing a large metal box near by could upset things a bit. It seems way more reasonable to me than BT deliberately 'sabotaging' your line.

In an ideal world it ought to be possible to have it 'repaired' but in practice you'll have a hard time getting anyone at BT (or probably your ISP) to accept there's a fault. There's a lot of leeway when it comes to classing broadband performance as a fault. Little point going into here other than to say there is some justification and also some obfuscation. In most cases though if you can't hear noise on the line no-one will want to know - feel free to complain about it though. You might get lucky.

Alternatively if you have FTTC in your area then why not switch to it? BT's Infinity seems to be a reasonable service and is very competitively priced. Alternatively if you're one of the pathological BT haters there are plenty of other ISPs offering a cabinet based service.

http://www.robertos.me.uk/html/isps_offering_fttc.html

That's not my site but it's a good list. Actually there's a lot of information on that site so well worth a read :)

Note to ed: We could do with a 'Careful, now' icon I think :D

2
3
Anonymous Coward

>Personally, I put letters like that back in the post with a label over the address, but without postage. The idea is >that only when it starts to cost something, companies will pay attention.

Or get the return envelope, glue it to a paving slab an post it.

2
0

...... actually I think I may have some bricks kicking about somewhere, they might do, easier to carry to the post office.

0
0
Bronze badge
Headmaster

AC @ 08:32

Wrote : "Personally, I put letters like that back in the post with a label over the address, but without postage. The idea is that only when it starts to cost something, companies will pay attention."

Can you explain that? You put a label over your own address? So is BT's address pre-printed on the back, and if so you are assuming it will go back to them and they be charged for the return postage?

I am not sure it will work like that. As long as you really are at your address, I believe that *you* could be charged for the return postage because the Post Office have already done their job properly.

Of course, if BT were to use a pre-paid return envelope, use that (but they don't work that way, being a phone company). I send loads of mailshots like that back, often adding more stuff to get the weight into the next cost bracket. Depending on context I remove anything to identify myself.

I also make a note of mail spammers "Freepost" addresses - you can use any envelope for those. I have a large collection of unused pre-addressed envelopes (they come with electricity bills etc but I pay on-line) and I once sent about a fifty of them back to a mail spammer using labels I printed myself with their Freepost address. I am not sure how far you can go with this - could I put one on a parcel with a few house bricks in it, does anyone know?

1
0
Bronze badge

@AC 08:49

As I said in a separate post, BT do not send out pre-paid return envelopes. They are a *phone* company, they want you to do business over the phone. They do not phone you though as they are not allowed to.

So be ready to pay for the stamps on that paving slab.

0
0
Mushroom

There's nothing pathological about hating BT. It's a rational response to a company that proves again and again and again that it can't be trusted, that it rips off its customers, that it distorts markets and that it quite frankly doesn't give a toss.

I wasn't born a BT hater...they made me one through their egregious service. The sooner the company is put down and properly split up (none of this Chinese walls BT Retail/ BT Openreach bollocks).

6
0
Silver badge

BT has not changed it's attitude towards either it's customers or it's competition since the days it was nominally in public ownership.

I can't help thinking the only 'cure' would be for it it be shut down completely and the bits sold off.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

A better cure would be for the government to take full control of it again. I mean lets face it, they're recording more profit than the government, and yet they need the government to pay half the costs for them to do... anything.

It would be better in the public domain as a distributor to the otehr services and not an active entity.

Same with british gas.

1
3
Silver badge
Facepalm

> A better cure would be for the government to take full control of it again.

And you base that recommendation on what, exactly? Its track record of running large projects? The way it and its predecessors have run the economy? The honesty and integrity of MPs?

And as if that wasn't farcical enough:

You think that the government's policies with respect to privacy and copyright protection mean that they would be best suited to run the country's internet infrastructure?

You are either taking strong medication or there's been a rip in the space-time continuum and your post has come here from some alternate reality. I'm not saying that private enterprise is doing a bang-up, perfect job but lordy, lordy let's not hand what we've currently got to the government.

1
0
Bronze badge
Flame

@ Will Godfrey

Wrote : "BT has not changed it's attitude towards either it's customers or it's competition since the days it was nominally in public ownership."

I don't agree, it is much worse. I do not recall that the nationalised BT charged you a "processing fee" for you to pay your own bill as they do now.

1
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

@AC 08:50 A better cure would be for the government to take full control of it again.

I can only imagine you're not old enough to remember Post Office Telephones. It used to take six months to get a phone installed. The job would be done by three different people who would each come to the house and fiddle about for half an hour, then wander off.

When they eventually finished you'd be the proud possessor of a monstrous plastic phone with a rotary dial (but not the owner - you had to pay every month to rent the thing, and if you terminated the service you had to give it back). You couldn't change it for anything else because the Post Office made it more or less impossible to get equipment certified for connection. For this reason alone, a 300-bps modem used to cost about £500.

Aahh, the good old days!

2
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

You beat me to it!

Our experience was even worse. When we moved to the outskirts of Reading in 1962, my dad was told that as we more than 220 yards from the nearest service point, it would take 18 months for a connection and as there was 'no other demand' we would have to pay the full cost of cable laying. They continued to insist on this even after dad sent them a photo showing the post right outside our front gate, with two cables going to houses across the street!

The impasse was only broken when dad was able to find the postal address of one of the upper management (no idea how he did that) and sent him copies of all the correspondence plus the photo, along with a request for an interview with a newspaper reporter.

1
0
Silver badge

I'm not surprised. Like any business they will try to maximise their profits. They have an obligation to their shareholders (anyone with a pension fund, so probably most of us) to do so. Unfortunately network provision in the UK is a very competitive market with ludicrously small margins in some areas. While this judgement is probably more concerning leased lines I suspect that it's all part of a greater problem. BT are being denied the kind of profit margins they think they need in other sectors and so are trying to claw that back elsewhere.

Now whether or not the margins BT wants are reasonable is hard to say. However I'm a firm believer that the ongoing issues facing general internet access in the UK are the result of low prices. There's almost no money to be made on an on-going basis so the case for investment and expansion is weak. It doesn't help that really there is still no specific 'must have' application that would guarantee a useful income from 'superfast' broadband. Yes it'd be nice if everyone would watch HDTV over their Internet connection but how does that generate revenue? If people were willing to pay for that service they'd already have signed up with Sky or VM.

NB: To the persistent downvoters. I'm not against network investment and I'd love to see everyone in the country with 100Mb/s to their house and office. Unfortunately I'm cursed with common sense and I have an idea of the costs involved and especially given the last five years I have to ask if enough money is available (doubtful) and whether it's prudent to spend it (questionable) on this. We're currently all experiencing the result of a large unbridled, thoughtless spending spree. Do we really want to repeat the same mistakes?

3
1

You seem to be mis informed about a few things, If people were able to get Sky or Virgin do you think they'd be complaining here? In the vast majority of the country, and I'm talking geographically here not population coverage, BT is a monopoly. You CANNOT get these other services. And most people I talk to DON'T want 100MB, 1MB would be a start!

BT have made massive profits, historically, by charging people to use the network they inherited cheap while slowly letting it run into the ground. In the meantime they have cherry picked to make more profit and completely ignored the fact that they are supposed to running a national infrasctructure.

They choose not to provide service where there is no profit in it, but then use every underhand tactic in the book to make sure no competition can possibly get established in an area that they have allready decided not to provide service to.

BT is a national disgrace and the reason that the UK has a third world telecommunications network. Competetive market my arse!

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Have you ever been to the third world?

What sensible business, especially one offering fixed as opposed to mobile services, is going to concentrate on geographic rather than population coverage?

It's hard to argue they're a monopoly when the 1Mbps you claim to want is available over 3G.

The market must be competitive, logically, because telecoms services in the UK are amongst the very cheapest in Europe, if not the world. Broadband availability is very high (6th in the world). If we were living in a monopoly that wouldn't be the case.

The problem with infrastructure rollout generally - but especially in the UK - is that prices are too low. Who's going to lend me money to build something if I can't pay them back for 20 years? If price continues on a downward curve, I might never be able to pay them back. It doesn't matter who provides the service - BT, Virgin, the government, a local co-op - the market has set prices below a point where you can invest anywhere other than locations where you're guaranteed to make a return. Add the risk that a regulator might force you to resell your new shiny infrastructure to a competitor for a fraction above what it cost and you can understand the reluctance. How many factories would BMW open if they were told that at any point Peugeot might be allowed to buy their cars from them at cost + £10, slap a lion badge on the front and sell them as their own?

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Line rentals ?

So are we gonna get cheaper mandatory line rentals, or are our ISPs just gonna make more profit on what they sell us?

0
0
Silver badge
Meh

Re: Line rentals ?

This article has no direct impact on the last mile. It's talking about the charges BT levied for their core network and/or transits. Stuff that only other ISPs and very large companies are likely to be buying. There might be a knock-on effect somewhere down the line but for the average man in the street this ruling means bugger all.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

The other side

BT gets slapped for this but Virgin Media has never had to share any of its infrastructure with any other company. (Not that anyone would want to use its shoddy network).

I feel sorry for BT as I see it being forced into problems in the same way as the Post office was when it lost its monopoly and the other postal providers took all the easier more profitable areas from them.

1
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: The other side

Isn't the difference here that BT (the private company) inherited their network from BT (the national telecom service), paid for by the public.

Virgin media - formally NTL - formally Comcast - had to pay to have their own network built.

4
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: The other side

Er, no. It was not 'inherited'.

It was the Government who sold the (public owned) network to BT, which was bought and paid for by the shareholders.

2
2

Re: The other side

BT Plc may have inherited their network which at the time was in such a poor state since the Government did not invest money made back in to the network but wasted a lot of it. I believe Thatcher refused to put in Fibre back in the 80's as she said this would cause unfair competition in the Telecoms Industry.

NTL which was Comcast/Comtel which received 75%of it's funding form YES the government and as of yet this has NOT been paid back to the taxpayer!!!

Please also note that BT Plc has opened up all of it's network which includes pole sharing, duct sharing so it is fair competition for it's competitors yet Virgin media does not allow any of this, not even at there exchanges which is unfair competition!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The other side

Not sure they "paid". They ran up loads of debts, couldn't pay them and got bailed out with public money. NTL/Virgin picked up those assets in the government equivalent of a fire sale.

The government sold BT's network to shareholders. In public ownership BT was a net contributor to the exchequer, so it's hard to argue that the taxpayer funded the network - it's more the opposite, that BT funded the taxpayer.

None of this excuses dodgy behaviour of course, but it's not true to say that BT were somehow gifted a fully functioning business at the expense of Joe Public.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Google, please buy BT and upgrade everyone to 1Gb symmetric broadband and do away with telephone line rental

1
0
Bronze badge
Windows

Nationalize the Infrastructure and charge BT and others rent to use it and maintain it.

This is what happens when the Fox (BT) has the keys to the henhouse. The US missed the opportunity to fix the infrastructure problem when AT&T (Ma Bell) was broken up into the Baby Bells, each of which became problematic in different ways.

The government builds the roads and maintains them and the telecommunications network infrastructure should be the same way so that there can be some kind of competition between service providers.

In my area, Verizon will not maintain it's POTS lines and are deliberately letting them decay even though there are laws and regulations in place that require them to provide repair and maintenance. Fiber has not been built out here and we are stuck with either cable internet (Time Warner) or DSL.

That is a choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Nationalize the Infrastructure and charge BT and others rent to use it and maintain it.

It won't help. When telcos were publically owned, governments treated them as cash cows and milked the profit. Supply always lagged demand as that's the most economically efficient model in a utility monopoly business - it's cheaper to let demand go unserved than build ahead of the curve to be ready for it.

Even if there were a nationalisation, what would change? The rollout of new services is slow and targeted, because the return on investment is poor. At current prices it might take 10 or 20 years to recoup the cost of a fibre rollout, and those prices are dropping. An investor would be better off putting their money in the bank. If that rollout was driven by a public body, where would they get money from? What would be their incentive to do it well? What would change to make them put supply before demand? I think you'd end up with exactly the same situation as today, just with a different logo. The ever-so slightly lower financing costs of a government organisation might subtly change the economics enough to make Virgin go bust - that's about all I can think of.

0
0
Silver badge

The kind of thing in the court case

Is why $employer had to pay 150k for a 1Gb/s circuit installation (fibre was already there) and still pays 35k/year for it, vs prices which are less than half that in areas where there is competition to BT for the last mile, and 1/10 of that in areas like the City where there is _real_ competiion.

Yes, seriously. We've been flat out told by BT reps that we'd get much lower pricing if we were receiving comparable service from a competitor and until then we can go whistle.

Prices have dropped recently but they're still eyewateringly high compared to areas where there's competition.

1
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Monopolist uses monoply powers to proptect its monopoly

BT think of these things as "theirs" In reality they were *given* to them by the UKGovt at the sell off over 30 yrs ago.

While BT (and possibly Virgin) are the only players to have made *any* investment in new ducts it's clear that 30 yrs on they are still the de-facto monopoly in the UK.

Who looses?

The UK *consumer*

This will not change unless a few senior execs start going to jail.

1
0
This topic is closed for new posts.