News story

CMA determination published in telecoms appeals

The CMA’s determination following appeals by TalkTalk and CityFibre over leased line charges has been published by the CAT.

Optical fibres

In November 2016, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) referred 2 appeals to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over the amount British Telecommunications plc (BT) is permitted to charge other providers for purchasing leased line services.

CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings plc (CityFibre) and TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc (TalkTalk) both appealed to the CAT following the Office of Communications’ (Ofcom’s) final decision in its Business Connectivity Market Review (BCMR) in April last year.

Leased lines are high-quality, dedicated, point-to-point data transmission services used by businesses and providers of communications services. Leased lines are most commonly rented by businesses or larger organisations from communications providers who, in turn, may purchase wholesale leased line services from BT.

In its final determination on the TalkTalk appeal published by the CAT today (and also available on the CMA’s case page, the CMA has said that Ofcom made an error in the methodology used for calculating the price for Dark Fibre Access. It has given guidance to the CAT that the decision should be remitted to Ofcom and that Ofcom should amend its methodology in light of the CMA’s findings.

The CMA dismissed the challenge in the CityFibre appeal.

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 CMA for determination. Both companies therefore sought a reference to the CMA of the price control matters in their respective appeals. Certain non-price control matters in relation to the BCMR are also being dealt with by the CAT in appeals brought by BT and CityFibre.

The determination was made by a group of independent panel members supported by a case team of CMA staff.

The CAT is required to determine the specified price control matters in accordance with the CMA’s findings, unless the CMA’s determination is set aside on judicial review grounds. Further details on the TalkTalk and CityFibre appeals are available on the CAT’s website.

The deadline for the determination to be notified to the CAT was 7 April 2017.

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 leased line decision is set out in the Business Connectivity Market Review.
  3. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (rory.taylor@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 020 3738 6798).
  4. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr, LinkedIn and Facebook. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on regulatory references and appeals.
Published 10 April 2017