Oftel move heralds cut-price surfing

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In a move expected to open the way to cheaper Internet access, UK regulators have unveiled charges to be paid by telecoms firms for using British Telecom’s local exchanges.

Oftel proposes charging operators $170 (£118) in annual rent for a loop in addition to a $137 (£95) connection charge.

Until now, the failure by telecoms regulator Oftel to set charges for access to broadband ‘local loops’ has been blamed for the series of cancellations to plans by Internet service providers to provide unmetered access to the web.

Oftel director general, David Edmonds, said: “This is another important step towards local loop unbundling. Operators now have a clear idea of how much they will have to pay.”

The proposed charge for an internal tie cable connecting 100 loops to an operator’s equipment is $30 (£21) annual rental plus a $2,075 (£1,433) connection charge.

Edmonds said he was confident that the charges would allow other operators to provide new, higher bandwidth services to consumers at competitive prices.

Oftel said it was asking for comments on its proposals by 4 December, following which it would determine finally the charges operators would face. Plans call for the charges to take effect on 31 December and remain fixed until 1 April 2002, when they will be reviewed.



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