Investigation into BT's compliance with its obligations as a broadband universal service provider

15 October 2020

Closed

Investigation into British Telecommunications plc (BT)
Case opened 15 October 2020
Case closed 29 November 2021
Summary

This investigation considered whether BT is complying with its obligations to provide a broadband universal service in accordance with the regulatory conditions imposed on 6 June 2019.

Relevant legal provision(s)

Universal Service Conditions for BT

We have today closed our investigation of BT’s compliance with its obligations to provide a broadband universal service in accordance with relevant regulatory conditions. This follows our announcement of July 2021 that we had suspended the investigation as BT had offered assurances in connection with the matters under investigation, and the conclusion of Ofcom’s consultation on proposed changes to the relevant regulatory conditions.

As a result of its assurances to Ofcom, BT has now changed its approach to calculating excess costs where the excess costs associated with a given connection in a cluster of premises do not exceed £5,000 (excluding VAT). In particular, BT will now provide connections to eligible customers who agree to pay their share of any relevant excess costs. Previously BT would only provide such a connection where customers in a given cluster collectively paid all excess costs. We are satisfied that BT has fully implemented this change and we consider that this will, in large part, address the concerns about consumer harm that led us to open this investigation.

In accordance with its assurance, BT has also applied this new approach retrospectively to ensure that any existing customer quotes or excess cost payment benefit from the change. Based on evidence provided by BT, we are satisfied that these comply with the relevant methodology.

Separate to this investigation, Ofcom has recently announced its decision to implement certain changes to the regulatory conditions associated with the Broadband Universal service. The changes mean that BT can now wait until it has agreement to recover the total excess costs before commencing a build, where the excess costs associated with a given connection exceed £5,000 (excluding VAT).

As a result of these factors, Ofcom is satisfied that the conduct that led to the opening of the investigation has ceased. Ofcom does not consider it appropriate to continue its investigation and has therefore closed it without making any findings as to BT’s compliance with the relevant regulatory obligations. Ofcom will continue to monitor BT’s provision of broadband as a universal service, in order to ensure that it is in line with the universal service conditions as amended.


Case leader

Amie Purcell

Case reference CW/01256/10/20