BT have been hit with a record fine by Ofcom of £42m for delays in installing the lines between early 2013 and late 2014. The biggest fine the telecoms regulator has said to have ever handed down. As well as this they will also be required to pay £300m to corporate customers for delays in installing high-speed lines plus £300,000 for failing to provide Ofcom adequate information.
Ofcom, investigating BT’s actions, had found that BT’s Openreach division had cut compensation payments to telecoms providers after delays in installing the lines between early 2013 and late 2014.
This payment cut broke rules introduced by Ofcom to counter the significant market power held by BT.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom's investigations director, said: "These high-speed lines are a vital part of this country's digital backbone.
"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."
Openreach is the provider of the wires and cables that power the UK’s landline and broadband network.
Compensation should be paid by, BT division, Openreach when it is late installing ethernet lines or high-speed cables used by large businesses. The high-speed lines should be rolled out within 30 days and in cases where this is not possible, it is permissible in the rules for BT so long as BT give notice of this.
Ofcom felt the fine appropriately reflected the severity of the breach.
and found in their investigation that that notice was not always appropriately provided and that BT would go back in time to try and justify its delay to avoid paying compensation."
Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said the firm "apologised wholeheartedly" for the mistakes.