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Virgin Media does not have to share its cables - Ofcom

# 2 August 2011, 07:58 by Chris T

BT is spitting mad over Ofcom’s decision not to force rival Virgin Media to provide wholesale access to its infrastructure.

The former monopoly telco has been trying very hard to persuade the regulator that VM should be compelled to give its competitors – including BT – access to its fibreoptic broadband and TV network.

But Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator, has ruled that the state of the market does not justify such a move.

BT itself was forced to open its ducts and poles last January, although some of its rivals have since complained that the prices it wishes to charge per pole, or per metre of duct, are unrealistically high.

Ofcom has powers to force a company to open its infrastructure for its competitors to buy wholesale access where that company is judged to have ‘significant market power’ (SMP).

Virgin Media is not judged to have SMP, but BT had hoped to persuade Ofcom to use discretionary powers granted under the Communications Act to do it anyway.

“We would only consider using [our discretionary powers] in specific cases where the parties involved had tried, and failed, to reach a commercial access agreement,” Ofcom said in a statement.

“It would also have to be proportionate, non-discriminatory and in the interests of promoting efficient investment in infrastructure and innovation,” it added.

The ruling has left BT fuming and vowing to continue pressuring the regulator to reconsider its decision not to treat VM as BT itself has been treated.

“We believe it is important, and only fair, that others are prepared to do the same and remove any remaining barriers to investment,” a spokesman claimed.

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