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BT is aiming to scrap the traditional phone line network over the next decade, in favour of a new internet-based system.

The telecoms giant is asking media regulator Ofcom to loosen regulations which it claims are restricting it from phasing out landlines.

Specifically, BT wants to be freed from the Universal Service Obligation that stipulates that it must maintain a landline service.

BT posits that liberating it from this stipulation of its remit would enable it to better compete with US tech giants such as Apple and Facebook, by freeing up capital to improve the UK's broadband infrastructure.

Regardless of Ofcom's decision, BT is moving forward with plans to move all domestic and business customers to internet-based voice calls over the next ten years.

Mark Shurmer, BT’s Group Director of Regulatory Affairs, told the Telegraph this "obsolete regulation" should be rolled back, rather than clinging on "until the last user dies".

"What we are looking for is a kind of 'sunset clause' that will help customers to plan," he added.

According to BT, the move would have little or no impact on the majority of customers who are already using internet phones, and allow it to invest more in broadband upgrades.

landline home phone bill

A BT Spokesperson told ISPreview that all internet-based voice services will be used nationwide by 2025, and has called for the regulator's review to give careful consideration to rolling back obsolete rules.

"Regulation has not kept up with the massive growth in competition and rapid pace of technology change over the last decade, whilst there are many overlaps between British and European laws which could be removed and simplified," the representative added.

The introduction of such measures would therefore improve efficiency, stimulate competition, and encourage investment in the UK’s connected future, BT believes.

Ofcom's review will also determine whether Openreach should be separated from BT - something that rivals such as Sky and TalkTalk have argued will help to create a fairer market.

At the same time, BT is calling for a red tape reduction to solve the issue of Openreach’s obligations being covered by both European and UK regulations.

Mr Shurmer commented: "This is an opportunity to clear up the overlaps between the Openreach undertakings and EU legislation and regulate in one place only, so it’s more simple, efficient and reduces duplication."

The cutting of red tape has been supported by other major broadband and phone providers, although TalkTalk Chief Executive Dido Harding said she will only do so if Openreach becomes financially independent from BT.


ISP Review

The Telegraph

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