Telecoms watchdog Oftel has cleared BT of anti-competitive behaviour, dismissing a complaint made by Freeserve under the 1998 Competition Act.
French-owned internet service provider (ISP) Freeserve had alleged that BT abused its dominance in voice telephony by using its 'blue bill' and '150' customer service channel to market its broadband services, and by billing both BT broadband and telephony on the same bill.
Freeserve claimed that this gave BT an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals.
But Oftel ruled that because BT includes marketing material with the bill of every customer, regardless of his or her interest in broadband, it had not infringed the Competition Act.
After investigating the complaint, Oftel said BT's practices did not lead to an adverse impact on competition. It said joint billing could be replicated through other methods and that competitors could use other marketing channels at lower costs.
Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, said in a statement: "This is the latest in a long line of complaints against us from Freeserve, and another that Oftel has dismissed.
"I think that if I was a Freeserve customer I'd be seriously concerned about the time and money being invested in complaining to Oftel about BT."
But while BT may have won the battle, Freeserve could decide to continue the war by appealing the decision.
"We are carefully examining Oftel's detailed non-infringement decision and are considering our position," a spokeswoman for the ISP told vnunet.com.
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