As the 1 January deadline for European telecomms liberalisation expired, UK telcos were voted best for service, which they ascribed to the competitive market.
But Greek telcos were deemed most in need of improvement in the ?Voice of European Business? survey, carried out by Research International for BT.
The survey found that 52 per cent of senior business people - questioned in 450 large companies in nine European countries - believe the UK provides the best telecomms service. Germany and France were ranked second and third.
Most respondents were frustrated with the pace of liberalisation in their country, with 96 per cent of Swiss and over 70 per cent of Italian, Spanish and German respondents calling for more choice in their domestic markets.
Of the 50 UK respondents, 73 per cent voted the UK as the top source of suppliers in Europe, but 46 per cent still said they don?t have enough choice.
Mark Yeomans of Research International explained that, although many of the respondents hadn?t had direct experience of foreign telcos, their answers reflected "general public perception of the industry".
David Lewin, telecomms analyst at another research company, Ovum, added: "These opinions must have been partly based on perception rather than reality but, in many cases companies? foreign subsidiaries would have reported their experience of local suppliers."
The UK telcos believe the country's long established competitive market is the reason behind their high reputation.
A BT spokeswoman commented: "We?ve had lots of experience as a market defender, with more than 200 licensed operators in the UK already, but competition creates very demanding customers. Customer loyalty programmes were created for this reason."
Lewin explained: "Corporates always favour competition for price reasons. Having been deregulated for the last 14 years, the UK is well ahead of other EU countries."
From their position of strength UK suppliers are looking forward to the deregulation of European markets. Most EC countries were deregulated on 1 January this year.
Jo Upward, head of regulatory affairs at BT challenger Energis Communications, commented: "We?ve had deregulation in the UK for longer than anybody else and licensing is relatively relaxed so it?s bound to be more competitive."
Upward added: "Now that the rest of Europe is following suit there will be even more opportunities to expand."
A spokesperson for Cable & Wireless said: "We always welcome more competition because that that?s how we originally evolved and, as a company we already have a lot to offer globally."
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