Oftel has proposed measures to increase competition in the provision of services over unbundled local loops.
Under proposals on shared access, operators will have the option of providing voice calls and higher bandwidth services (such as fast Internet access, video-on-demand or high-speed data transfer) or higher bandwidth services only over unbundled loops.
Consumers can therefore choose to buy higher bandwidth services from a competing operator while retaining their existing voice service with BT or Kingston Communications.
This will give consumers greater choice and promote competition, leading to better service or lower prices.
David Edmonds, director general of Telecommunications, said: “Allowing two operators to provide different services over one telephone line means customers can choose to keep their existing company for voice calls and buy high-speed services from a competitor.
“Shared access will also make it easier for competitors to enter the market, as it allows companies to offer DSL services without voice telephony.
“This will increase choice for consumers, and is why Oftel has welcomed the inclusion of shared access in the European Commission’s proposed regulation on local loop unbundling.
“In addition, Oftel has confirmed important technical guidelines on the types of equipment that operators can use to provide a wide range of services to consumers. The guidelines ensure that there are no problems over compatibility or interference in the provision of services.”
Oftel will determine the price of shared lines.
The consultation document, Access to bandwidth: shared access, can be found on Oftel’s website.