Hours after his shock resignation announcement yesterday, telecomms watchdog Don Cruickshank issued a strong warning to BT that its messaging services are anti-competitive and breach the giant's licence terms.
Cruickshank, director general of Oftel, claimed BT's voice messaging and voicemail services, Call Minder and One Number, give the telco an unfair advantage over rivals in their current form.
In May, Cruickshank decided to relax the rules governing the Call Minder message service, but has now decided that BT is behaving anti-competitively by bundling this and One Number with basic network services.
The complaint centres on the way BT's services are split - mainly between network services and enhanced services. For enhanced services, BT must charge itself the same fees as it does independent service providers, which need to purchase the service from BT to resell to customers. However, BT is not treating Call Minder or One Number as enhanced services and is bundling them in such a way that independents cannot purchase them separately.
Cruickshank wants BT and non-BT customers to be able to choose any supplier of voicemail or voice messaging, and demands that BT enable its competitors to offer such services to its own customers.
BT has been given the deadline of 31 October to ensure One Number complies with Oftel's terms, and 31 December for Call Minder. Until then, the telco has been barred from accepting any new subscribers to both. BT warned that changes would mean price hikes for customers.
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