Dispute between: BT Wholesale and various communications providers about NTS POLO charges

04 June 2007

Dispute between: BT Wholesale and each of: Cable & Wireless UK, Colloquium Ltd, Interweb Design Ltd, Verizon UK Ltd, Nexus Communications, Opal Telecom Ltd (including Totem Communications Ltd), Prodigy Internet Ltd, Redstone Communications Ltd and Tiscali UK Ltd.
Case opened : 5 February 2007
Case closed: 4 June 2007
Relevant instrument: Ofcom intends to resolve the dispute under Chapter 3 of Part 2 of the Communications Act 2003
Issue: BT referred a dispute to Ofcom for resolution on 16 January 2007 under section 185(1) of the Communications Act 2003 following a breakdown in negotiations between BT and various communications providers over changes in outpayments from NTS calls (“NTS POLO charges”).

On 4 June 2007 Ofcom issued a Determination under Sections 188 and 190 of the Communications Act 2003 resolving this dispute.

Please see related item.

Update note – 26 April 2007

Ofcom has issued a draft determination in relation to this dispute. Please see the related item.

Ofcom will be consulting on its draft determination until 5pm on 11 May 2007. Please send responses to:

Nick Morris
Competition Group
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road

or by email to Nick.Morris@ofcom.org.uk@ofcom.org.uk

End of update note

Text published when case was opened

On 3 August 2006, BT issued an Operator Charge Change Notice (“OCCN”) giving notice of revised NTS POLO charges, effective from 1 October 2006. BT’s dispute referral submits that the notified changes to POLO rates reflect:

  • the replacement by BT Retail of the minimum call charge with a call set-up fee for residential customers; and
  • the application of revised average retail discount rates to 0845 and 0870 NTS products.

The changes have the effect of changing the retail call revenue passed from BT to NTS operators. For some operators, the call revenue will be increased, while for others it will be decreased, depending on the call profiles of its customers.

The communications providers listed above have failed to sign or have rejected the OCCN. Ofcom recognises that on the face of the referral, there appears to be a dispute between the parties that commercial negotiations have failed to resolve.


To determine, in connection with BT’s OCCN of 3 August 2006:

  • whether BT has acted consistently with BT's regulatory obligations in proposing new NTS POLO charges,
  • whether BT has accurately calculated the average discount rates in connection with the retail revenue for calls for the purposes of NTS call origination services provided by BT and, in considering this question, whether each of BT's retail discounts are 'applicable' discounts for the purposes of net retail call revenue.

Procedural matters

Guidance on the resolution of the dispute 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, which are published at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/bulletins/eu_directives/guidelines.pdf.

All representations on the scope of the dispute should be submitted to Ofcom by 14 February 2007.

Stakeholders interested in the outcome of this dispute should notify Ofcom by 14 February 2007, describing the relevance of the outcome of the dispute to their business. Stakeholders with relevant information and evidence in respect of this dispute should submit this to Ofcom by 28 February 2007. 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 with BT.

Case Leader: Nick Morris ( e-mail: nick.morris@ofcom.org.uk)
Case reference: CW/00943/01/07