Failures within its Openreach network division have landed BT with a £42m fine.
An investigation carried out by regulator Ofcom found that Openreach had “misused” its contracts with other telecoms providers by reducing compensation payments due to them when installing ethernet leased lines beyond the agreed delivery date.
The lines are used by BT’s rivals to provide high-speed links to large businesses, as well as other mobile and broadband providers.
According to the regulator, the behaviour took place between January 2013 and December 2014 and breached rules put in place to prevent BT from unfairly benefitting from its ‘significant market power’ status.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Investigations Director, said: “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.”
The £42m fine includes a 30% reduction in light of BT’s decision to accept Ofcom’s findings and accept full liability.
Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, said the firm “apologise wholeheartedly” for its behaviour, adding: “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.”