Competition – press release

CAT refers superfast broadband price control appeals to CMA

The CAT has referred 2 appeals to the CMA over restrictions to the charges BT is permitted to make for use of its superfast broadband network.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) and TalkTalk Telecom Group plc (TalkTalk) both appealed to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (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 Limited and TalkTalk to be interveners in the appeal brought by BT, and BT to be an intervener in the appeal brought by TalkTalk.

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.

Further details on the BT and TalkTalk appeals are available on the CAT website.

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law.
  2. Ofcom’s detailed explanation of its superfast broadband decision is set out in ‘Fixed Access Market Reviews: Approach to the VULA margin’’.
  3. The CAT hears appeals against decisions made by the CMA and sectoral regulators such as Ofcom.
  4. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (, 020 3738 6798).
  5. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on regulatory references and appeals.