BT and Talk Talk referred to CMA over pricing battle

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has referred two appeals to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over restrictions to the charges BT is permitted to make for use of its superfast broadband network.

Both BT and TalkTalk have appealed to CAT following Ofcom’s decision on superfast broadband pricing in March last year.

BT is currently the largest retail provider of fibre broadband services over its network, but is required to allow other operators to use its network to sell superfast broadband to consumers under a process known as ‘virtual unbundled local access’ (VULA).

The Ofcom pricing rule aims to ensure that BT maintains a sufficient margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband charges, in order to allow other providers profitably to match its prices.

Under the 2003 Communications Act, if decisions by Ofcom are appealed to the CAT and include a price control matter, then this matter must be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for determination.

Both parties have therefore sought a reference to the CMA of the price control matters in their respective appeals.

The CAT has permitted Sky UK and TalkTalk to be interveners in the appeal brought by BT, and BT to be an intervener in the appeal brought byTalkTalk.

The determination will be made by a group of independent panel members supported by a case team of CMA staff.

The CMA has 6 months to send its final determination to the CAT. The CAT will then include this determination in its judgment alongside the other issues it has considered as part of the appeals.

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