Businesses will face high prices and reduced choice for mobile communications unless Oftel acts quickly to regulate UK operators, according to the Service Providers' Interest Group (SPIG).
Oftel has so far forced BT Cellnet and Vodafone to sell network space to independent service providers for pre pay services. However, SPIG has urged the watchdog to complete its long running investigation into whether operators and their dedicated service providers are unfairly cross subsidising each other.
Advanced Telecom, a mobile service provider and SPIG member, said: "Independent mobile service providers could be wiped out in the next two years unless Oftel acts fast to eliminate anti competitive behaviour by the four mobile operators."
A SPIG spokesman added: "Users could suffer as, without competition, the cost of future mobile technology will be unnecessarily high and the opportunity to buy bundled services from more than one network will vanish."
Oftel said that 10 months into its investigation into BT Cellnet the operator agreed to open its network to independent service providers. Competitors had been unable to offer their own pre pay packages to customers using BT Cellnet's network. This meant they were effectively just distributors for Cellnet.
The watchdog also forced Vodafone to change the terms and conditions for its wholesale services last month.
David Edmonds, Oftel's director general, said: "It is vital that service providers can acquire services in order to market their own retail products. This should boost competition, increase choice and drive down prices."
An Oftel spokesperson said: "This is taking more time than any of us would have wanted but we want to get it right."
For more stories see this week's issue of Network News UK
Dust storm on Titan only the third Solar System body where such storms have been observed
New technique could enable quantum computers to scale-up to millions of qubits
Systrom and Krieger taking time off "to explore our curiosity and creativity"
Comcast's £29.7bn winning bid more than twice the £13.7bn Rupert Murdoch valued Sky at just eight years ago