DQ Advertisement on the cover of the Phonebook

25 February 2005

Complainant: Cable & Wireless supported by Centrica, Conduit, Telco Global, Telegate, Telewest, i-CD Publishing and The Number UK Ltd
Complaint against: BT
Case opened: 21 March 2003
Case closed: 23 December 2003
Issue: BT publicising its new directory enquiry (DQ) number on the cover of the BT Phonebook
Relevant instrument: Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 (abuse of a dominant position)

Oftel has closed this case by issuing a non-infringement decision. Click on the link Non-infringement decision

Case Leader: Ben Peters (020 7783 4311 e-mail: ben.peters@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference:CW/00604/03/03

Text published when the case was opened

Complainants: Cable and Wireless (supported by Centrica Communications, Conduit, Telco Global, Telegate, Telewest, 192.com and The Number UK Ltd)
Complaint against: BT
Case opened: 21 March 2003
Issue: BT advertising its new Directory Enquiry (DQ) number on the cover of the BT Phonebook
Relevant instrument: Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 (abuse of a dominant position)

In September 2001, the Director decided to introduce a new range of access numbers beginning with 118 for DQ services. The Director also decided to withdraw the existing national and international DQ service codes to encourage competition in the DQ market. The new 118 numbers were allocated to individual service providers wishing to provide a paid for national and/or international DQ service. The new DQ118 services were launched on 10 December 2002.

The complainants allege BT has breached Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 and condition 2.6 of its licence by using the cover of the BT Phonebook to advertise its new DQ number. The complainants believe that BT is attempting to leverage its dominance in the paper directories market into the new market for DQ118 services.

The Director is currently investigating the complaint.

Update note - 05 June 2003

The complainants requested that the Director take interim measures under the Competition Act as a matter of urgency to prevent serious and irreparable damage being caused to their business as a result of BT's conduct.

Following the Director's initial investigations into the complaint, BT has advised the Director that it has voluntarily taken steps to cease the further printing and distribution of copies of the phonebook bearing its new DQ number on the cover. Accordingly, while BT complies with its undertakings, the Director considers that there is no longer a need for him to apply interim measures under the Act. The undertakings will be reviewed when the Director's full investigation has been completed.

The Director's full investigation into the matters raised by this complaint remains ongoing.

Case leader: Richard Thompson (e-mail: richard.thompson@oftel.gov.uk)

Case reference: CW/00604/03/03