Ofcom fines BT £6.3m for breaking rules over Northern Irish contract

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has fined BT £6.3 million for breaking rules regarding a contract in Northern Ireland between 2017 and 2018.

Ofcom said the telecoms giant’s network arm failed to give a rival company the same information as its own bidding team during the tender process for a public sector contract.

Under the watchdog’s rules, BT’s network division must treat all wholesale customers equally, including BT’s own customer-facing business.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, BT and rival Eir both bid for a public sector contract in Northern Ireland to provide shared data transfer services.

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eircom rebrand

The regulator said it found that BT broke its rules by failing to provide Eir with the same information about its Fibre to the Premises on Demand (FOD) as BT’s own team.

BT’s network arm told Eir that FOD was not suitable and had “deliverly limitations” while BT’s bid team was told it could be used for major network projects, Ofcom said.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s director of enforcement, said: “BT’s network arm broke our rules by failing to treat a rival company and BT’s own bid team equally during the tender for a major public sector contract in Northern Ireland.

“Our fine reflects how important these rules are, and how seriously we take compliance.”

A spokesman for BT Group said: “We regret the level of service we provided to this communications provider during this tender process in Northern Ireland.

“We’ve cooperated with and accepted Ofcom’s findings and have already put measures in place to prevent this happening again.

“We also continue to review how we can improve our service.

“Ofcom recognises that these errors weren’t deliberate and that we took a number of steps to comply with the regulatory obligations.

“Based on Ofcom’s decision, we don’t believe this impacted the tender outcome.

“Our focus remains on constantly improving our levels of service to customers as we make significant investments in 5G and full fibre networks across the UK.”