BT accuses US rivals of harming competition

A BT executive has accused its US rivals of harming competition with the large fees they charge for using their infrastructure, according to the Financial Times.

Pointing specifically to Verizon and AT&T, Bas Burger, president of BT Group’s Americas operations, told reporters that US regulators need to create rules to ensure fair pricing for access to their networks.

Verizon and AT&T control approximately 80% of the telephone and broadband lines used by homes and businesses in the US, and charge high prices to competitors for use of this infrastructure.

“For a western world country it is the worst I’ve seen,” the FT quoted Burger as saying. “There is not sufficient regulation to create competition: almost all access is being provided by two companies and they have divided the country among themselves.”  

In the UK, regulations are in place to ensure that telecoms companies with rich infrastructure offer use of their networks at reasonable prices. Burger said that high pricing in the US means BT is forced to increase the amount it charges its US customers.

Burger added that contracts between operators like BT and these US providers should also be regulated to guarantee a minimum quality of service. Presently they do not have a specific time frame for fixing faults on their lines.

“The problem is for every consumer and business in the US – they pay too much, they wait too long and the quality is too low,” Burger said.

Last month, UK regulator Ofcom launched a consultation into whether Openreach should be split from BT, on grounds that it could lead to greater competition in the UK. 


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