UK telecoms watchdog Oftel will force BT to offer other operators wholesale permanent voice and data links services, which it said will lead to lower prices for users.
Oftel issued the draft directive requiring BT to offer wholesale leased line services, which are used to carry permanent telecoms links for high volumes of voice and data, following a complaint from Energis.
In August, Oftel said BT's pricing for leased lines is too expensive and higher than in other countries such as the US. Under the directive, BT will have two months to conclude negotiations on prices and conditions with competitors seeking leased lines.
David Edmonds, Oftel's director general of telecommunications, said: "Greater competition in wholesale leased lines is vital to ensure lower retail prices. Operators must be able to compete on an equal footing with BT.
"Oftel's proposals provide a firm basis for operators to obtain the necessary wholesale products from BT on non-discriminatory terms and therefore to compete effectively with BT."
BT said it is disappointed with Oftel's decision and does not think the ruling is necessary. The telco claims Oftel has failed to look at the evidence that "the high-bandwidth leased line market is already competitive".
"We are disappointed and do not think this was necessary," said a spokesman. "It appears that Oftel has not taken into account how competitive this market is. But we live in a real world and will continue to value our work with other operators."
Oftel, which said it does not rule out further regulatory action against BT, asked for comments on its proposals by 16 January and will issue the final directive after 30 January. It will release a further statement in the spring.
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