BT has been fined £42 million ($US52.7 million) by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom over delayed high-speed cable installations.
The fine, which is the largest that Ofcom has ever given out, comes after the BT Openreach division reduced the amount of compensation that it paid to other telecoms providers for late installations.
Ofcom found that BT Openreach, which provides the infrastructure that powers the UK’s broadband and landline phone network, cut compensation payments to telecoms providers between early 2013 and late 2014.
Openreach failed to pay full compensation to providers when it was late installing ethernet lines, Ofcom concluded. Ethernet cables are used by businesses, and internet service providers, to transmit data at high speed.
“We apologise wholeheartedly for the mistakes Openreach made in the past when processing orders for a number of high-speed business connections. This shouldn’t have happened and we fully accept Ofcom’s findings.
“Since I became CEO of Openreach in February 2016, we have monitored this area very closely, we have made improvements to how we process and deliver such connections, and we will make sure the same mistakes aren’t repeated in future.
“This issue is unrepresentative of the vast majority of work conducted by Openreach and we are committed to delivering outstanding service for our customers.”
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s investigations director, added:
“These high-speed lines are a vital part of this country’s digital backbone. Millions of people rely on BT’s network for the phone and broadband services they use every day.
“We found BT broke our rules by failing to pay other telecoms companies proper compensation when these services were not provided on time. The size of our fine reflects how important these rules are to protect competition and, ultimately, consumers and businesses. Our message is clear — we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.”
BT confirmed that it has set aside £300 million to repay providers for delays.
BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: “We take this issue very seriously and we have put in place measures, controls, and people to prevent it happening again.”
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