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UK’s CityFibre files complaint against BT’s Openreach

Britain’s CityFibre has filed a complaint to the competition regulator against BT’s Openreach, claiming the nationwide network operator is using pricing to deter its internet service provider (ISP) customers from using alternative fibre networks.

CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch said: “We welcome fair competition, but BT Openreach’s behaviour is straight out of the playbook of a dominant operator using its market power and advantages to maintain its dominance.

“If left unchecked, BT Openreach will strangle competition and threaten the pace of the UK’s full fibre roll out – all at the same time as BT Consumer is imposing broadband price rises on millions of households far above the rate of inflation.”

Openreach, which is building Britain’s biggest fibre-to-the-premise network, has offered ISPs discounts in return for meeting targets to connect a majority of new lines to its network where it is available.

Alternative fibre providers challenged Openreach’s offer, called Equinox, but the regulator, Ofcom, decided not to intervene.

CityFibre, whose backers include Antin Infrastructure Partners and Goldman Sachs, unsuccessfully appealed the decision.

Reports have said Openreach is imminently set to launch a new discount pricing offer called Equinox 2.

CityFibre said Openreach was exploiting the dependency of its ISP customers with an aggressive pricing strategy that deterred them from placing orders with alternative fibre providers.

Openreach’s Chief Executive Clive Selley said the company had not yet seen the details of CityFibre’s complaint to Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority, but he rejected any suggestion that Openreach wasn’t competing fairly and said the company would defend that position strongly.

“We take our legal and regulatory obligations extremely seriously and we’re confident that we comply with those obligations to enable fair competition and choice for UK consumers and businesses,” Selley said. Nasdaq

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