Own initiative investigation into British Telecommunications Plc (“BT”) concerning compliance with its cost-orientation obligations under General Condition 18.5

10 January 2017

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative  investigation
Investigation against: British Telecommunications plc (“BT”)
Case opened: 11 November 2015
Case closed: 4 January 2017
Issue: Whether BT has complied with its obligations under General  Condition 18.5(a) to set its porting charges on a cost-oriented basis and based  on the incremental costs of providing portability
Relevant Instrument: Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Communications Act 2003.

Ofcom has  now closed the investigation concerning BT’s compliance with its  cost-orientation obligations under General Condition 18.5 (GC 18.5).

The  investigation was opened following publication of Final Determinations in  disputes brought by Gamma Telecom Holdings Limited and Vodafone Limited which  concerned whether BT had set its average porting conveyance charges (APCCs) in  line with GC18.5.

In the  Final Determinations we found that BT’s charges to Gamma and Vodafone for APCCs  from January 2015 did not comply with the requirements of GC18.5(a) and we concluded  that BT should amend its charges accordingly and make repayments to Gamma and  Vodafone.

We opened  this investigation on 11 November 2015 to consider BT’s compliance with its  obligations under GC18.5 more widely. We put the investigation on hold  following BT’s decision to appeal the Final Determinations. On 4 November 2016  the Competition Appeal Tribunal handed down its judgment, which dismissed the  appeal.[1]

On 2  December 2016, BT informed Ofcom of its approach to implementing the Final  Determinations and confirmed that it will act in compliance with the principles  set out in the determinations in respect of all communications providers. In  particular, BT provided assurances regarding its intentions to contact all  affected communication providers to agree arrangements for paying any backdated  APCC adjustments that are due.

We are  satisfied with the assurances that BT has provided in respect of complying with  the principles set out in the dispute determinations and making repayments to  any affected communications providers. Given this, we have decided to close the  investigation.

Text when case was opened

Ofcom has today opened an  investigation into BT’s apparent non-compliance with General Condition 18.5,  which requires that porting charges be reasonable and based on the incremental  costs of providing portability.

Number portability enables  subscribers to retain their telephone number(s) when they switch between  communication providers (CPs). Porting charges are levied between CPs to  recover certain costs associated with number portability.

On 29 September 2014 Ofcom set  out guidance (the “Guidance”) as to how CPs should set these porting charges to  meet the requirements of GC18* and BT amended its porting charges on 1 January  2015 following the Guidance being published.

Ofcom has decided to open an  investigation that will examine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe  that BT has failed to set its porting charges from 1 January 2015 in line with  the cost-orientation requirements under GC18.5 and the Guidance.

Ofcom has today also issued  its Final Determinations in disputes brought by Gamma Telecom Holdings Limited  and Vodafone Limited which concerned whether BT had set its average porting  conveyance charges (“APCCs”) in line with GC18 and the Guidance.** The  investigation that we have opened today is separate from these disputes.

Case Leader: Kathryn Searle  (Kathryn.searle@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01172/11/15

Footnotes
*http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/gc18-sep14/summary/Statement_on_Porting_Charges_under_GC18.pdf

**http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/competition-bulletins/closed-cases/all-closed-cases/cw_01161/

1) http://www.catribunal.org.uk/237-9064/1245-3-3-16-British-Telecommunications-PLC-.html