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Regulation in the UK

UK regulatory structure

The principal elements in BT’s regulatory environment in the UK are obligations which apply under the Communications Act 2003 and competition law. The Office of Communications - Ofcom - is the regulatory authority under the Communications Act. In addition, it has concurrent authority with the Competition and Markets Authority for the telecoms sector under the Enterprise Act and under the Competition Act 1998.

BT's regulatory obligations under the Communications Act

The Communications Act came into force on 25 July 2003. The foundation of the regulatory framework under the Act is the set of general conditions. These apply to all providers of electronic communications networks or services. The general conditions are mainly concerned with consumer protection, but also address areas such as general access and interconnection obligations, standards, emergency planning and numbering.

Additional obligations are imposed on providers designated as providers of universal service. BT has been designated as the provider of universal service in the UK, excluding the Hull area. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) conditions imposed on BT address issues such as the provision of access to the telephone network, schemes for consumers with special social needs and public call box services. Additional obligations are also imposed on individual providers that have been designated as having Significant Market Power (SMP) in an identified market following a review of that market. BT has been designated with SMP in a number of markets.

The SMP conditions imposed vary from market to market. They include obligations to meet reasonable requests to supply certain services to other communications providers, not to unduly discriminate, and to notify price changes.

Ofcom is required to consult on the setting, modification and revocation of conditions. Appeals are available against regulatory decisions taken under the Communications Act.

Competition Act

BT is also subject to general competition law, and the Competition Act 1998 came into effect in March 2000 - bringing the UK in line with European Community law.

The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices and the abuse of a dominant market position.

Competitive environment

As regulated markets become competitive and are subject to future market reviews under the Communications Act, there should be a move away from SMP conditions to greater reliance on the Competition Act. Ofcom has a duty to ensure that regulation does not involve unnecessary burdens and to publish a periodic statement setting out how it intends to achieve these duties.

In addition, Ofcom’s acceptance of BT’s Undertakings under the Enterprise Act should over time allow regulation to be focused only where it is needed and rolled back elsewhere, delivering clarity and certainty to the whole telecommunications industry.

BT TV EPG Listing Policy

This is the BT TV EPG Policy which sets out the methodology for allocating listings for IP Channels on BT TV and conforms to Ofcom’s Code of Practice on Electronic Programme Guides.