Oftel has warned that BT?s bid for globalisation could damage its ability and willingness to meet its UK licence obligations.
Don Cruickshank, director general of the telecomms watchdog, said: ?BT?s record so far demonstrates overall quality and reliability at both wholesale and retail levels. But there may be areas in future where BT?s own interests no longer coincide so fully with those of UK consumers.?
A BT spokesperson dismissed Oftel?s claims, saying: ?Why would we ignore our 20 million residential and seven million business customer base? The UK is still our main market and we have invested millions of pounds in the country. Our business roots are in the UK.?
Cruickshank also questions whether his powers to secure service levels in the UK in the future would be reduced ?if BT?s self-interest no longer coincided so fully with the interests of UK consumers?.
His comments are made in a consultative document entitled ?Domestic obligations in a global market?, which calls for suggestions on whether to impose further licence conditions on BT to ensure customers are adequately served.
Oftel has suggested it could take one of four options. These are to rely on existing regulatory arrangements; continue to monitor BT and be ready to impose specific quality standards; modify BT?s licence to prohibit the company from taking any action that could prejudice its ability to meet its service obligations in the UK; or to impose an all-embracing duty on the company.
Unsurprisingly, the BT spokesperson said there should be no further licence obligations as it would disadvantage UK customers if BT found it difficult to freely compete in a global market.
The deadline for comments to Oftel is 1 May 1997.
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