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EC wants telcos to tell tales

BT could face a bashing for hogging local loop

The European Commission wants telcos to voice their complaints about incumbent operators' dominance of the local loop, Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said today.

Monti invited companies to make formal complaints after having already received numerous informal comments from operators, he said.

The Commission is already examining two suspected breaches of antitrust law by telcos. One case, opened last year, concerns French ISP Wanadoo, a subsidiary of France Télécom. The other, opened in May, is against Deutsche Telekom.

Monti said the complaints already received go far beyond these two cases.

"We are ready, of course, to [deal with] the additional complaints that could be filed on local loop unbundling," Monti said.

He is particularly concerned about cases where established telcos are allegedly discriminating against new entrants.

Competition Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said the allegations made in informal complaints pointed to a "pattern of discrimination" by existing telephone service providers across the 15 member states of the European Union.

The discriminatory behaviour is not necessarily to do with pricing, but is more about the conditions facing new entrants, such as the ability to install their equipment in incumbents' local exchanges, she said.

Some incumbents are alleged to have been causing "unjustified delays" in installing equipment and to be providing inferior services to new entrants, she said.

Only 4 percent of the local loop in the EU has so far been unbundled, according to Etno (European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association).

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