UK regulator investigates whether BT discriminated against Eir in North
Matter concerns £50m contract that could rise to £400m
Eir has already tried to halt the contract coming into force due its complaints but a judge ruled against its request
The regulator is investigating whether the contract, won by BT’s Enterprise arm, fell foul of significant market power rules after a complaint from Eir. It will investigate whether access to BT’s network, owned by its Openreach division, was provided to Eir on an equivalent basis to the company’s own business unit when bidding for the contract.
The investigation could trigger a significant fine if BT is found to have discriminated against Eir. It could also prove to be an acid test for the independence of Openreach which legally separated from BT last year and is meant to be independent of its parent company’s commercial activities.
The £50 million (€58 million) contract, which could rise in value to £400 million, was a big win for BT. Eir has already tried to halt the contract coming into force due its complaints but a judge ruled against its request.
A spokesman for Openreach said: “We are aware of Ofcom’s investigation and we will, of course, provide any information they require in the course of their inquiries.”
Ofcom is obliged to open an investigation into significant market power disputes after complaints from rivals.
The regulator fined BT a record £42 million last year following complaints about Openreach’s historic behaviour. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019