The Direction came to resolve an interconnection dispute between BT and MCI Worldcom.
MCI Worldcom had requested that BT supply it with a wholesale unmetered internet access service from the customer’s home. BT refused, and was only prepared to offer a metered service.
Under the Direction issued on Friday, BT must agree to offer a wholesale unmetered internet access service to MCI Worldcom and other operators who request it by no later than 1 June 2000.
OFTEL’s decision means that other operators will be able to provide unmetered internet access to consumers in competition to BT’s own unmetered internet access known as Surftime.
David Edmonds, Director General of Telecommunications said today:
"Although the UK has some of the cheapest internet access on offer for residential consumers, OFTEL wants to see more low cost internet access available, with a choice of tariff packages. We have been working to encourage a range of tariffs, including unmetered access for heavy users of the internet.
We have welcomed BT’s plans to launch Surftime, which will offer consumers both low cost pay-as-you-go internet access and unmetered, or flat rate, tariffs. It is vital for the UK’s vibrant internet market that other operators and ISPs can compete fairly and offer similar products to their own customers.
OFTEL’s decision will enable other operators and ISPs to offer competing unmetered internet access using BT’s local network.”
OFTEL has outlined a programme of further work to develop regulatory certainty in relation to internet access issues. Later this year OFTEL will also carry out a major review of access to the internet, to assess the level of competition and regulation to ensure consumers get the best deal possible.