Dispute between Opal Telecom and BT about Opal’s Fixed Geographic Termination Rates

26 October 2009

Dispute between: Opal Telecom (Opal) and BT plc (BT)
Case opened: 26 June 2009
Case closed: 23 October 2009
Issue: Opal asked Ofcom to resolve a dispute under section 185 of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act) between Opal and BT concerning the termination rate payable by BT for calls originating on or transiting across BTs fixed network for termination on Opals fixed network.
Relevant instrument: Ofcom resolved this dispute using its powers under Chapter 3 of Part 2 of the Act.

On 23 October 2009 Ofcom issued a final determination under Sections 188 and 190 of the Act resolving this dispute. Please see related items.

Update note 14 September 2009

On 11 September 2009 Ofcom issued a draft determination in relation to this dispute to the parties in dispute and the five parties which registered as interested parties. Please see the related item. Ofcom will be consulting on its proposals until 5 pm on 25 September 2009. Please send responses to:

Phil Jones
Competition Group
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road

or by email to phil.jones@ofcom.org.uk

End of update note

Opal and BT have failed to agree the level of the termination rate charged for the termination of calls originated on or transiting across BTs network for termination on Opals fixed network.

Ofcom recognises that on the face of the referral it appears that the dispute meets the relevant statutory criteria and it is appropriate for Ofcom to handle it according to section 186 of the Act. Ofcom has therefore accepted this dispute for resolution.
In resolving disputes Ofcom must act in accordance with the six Community requirements that give effect to Article 8 of the Framework Directive.

In summary, those requirements are:

  • to promote competition in communications markets;
  • to secure that Ofcom contributes to development of the European internal market;
  • to promote the interests of all European Union citizens;
  • to act in a manner which, so far as practicable, is technology-neutral;
  • to encourage, to the extent Ofcom considers it appropriate, the provision of network access and service interoperability; and
  • to encourage such compliance with certain international standards as is necessary for facilitating service interoperability and securing freedom of choice for the customers of communications providers.

Scope of the dispute:

The scope of the dispute is to determine whether the fixed geographic termination rate proposed by Opal to BT in its OCCN 654 with effect from 1 October 2009 for terminating on Opals network calls originating on, or transiting across, BTs fixed network, is fair and reasonable in accordance with SMP Condition BC1; this rate being equivalent to the BT Single Tandem termination rate as published in their current Carrier Price List.

Procedural matters:

Guidance on the resolution of disputes can be found in Ofcom's Guidelines for the handling of competition complaints, and complaints and disputes about breaches of conditions imposed under the EU Directives.

All representations on the scope of the dispute should be submitted to Ofcom by 7 July 2009.

Stakeholders interested in the outcome of this dispute should notify Ofcom by 7 July 2009, describing the relevance of the outcome of this dispute to their business. Stakeholders with relevant information and evidence in respect of this dispute should submit this to Ofcom by 21 July 2009.

Stakeholders who wish Ofcom to join them as parties to the dispute must provide evidence, as set out in Ofcom's Guidelines, that they are in dispute.

Case Leader: Phil Jones (e-mail:phil.jones@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01027/06/09