Telco watchdog Oftel has announced an inquiry into BT's charges to other companies to supply broadband internet access. Oftel says BT's been overcharging, BT claims not.

Yesterday’s emergency ‘unbundling’ meeting, chaired by Anne Lambert, Oftel’s director of operations, was an attempt to get other telcos back on track after some of them dropped out of the race to broadband altogether.

An Oftel spokeswoman stated telcos were concerned BT was charging more than it should. “Costs should have been calculated to ‘cost level’,” she said. “We have concerns that BT aren’t calculating figures at this level.”

“We are happy that BT is now co-operating fully with ourselves and other operators,” the spokeswoman added. This attempt at a united front isn't the whole story though. It seems cooperating fully is far from what BT has been doing, but BT doesn't see it that way.

BT denies the allegation, insisting Oftel was responsible for calculating costs.

“We have not set our own costs. Oftel set out prices and agreed them beforehand,” said Michael Waddley, spokesperson for BT. “We were told we had the right to recover these costs and make a profit of around six percent. This is the figure we have calculated.”

The meeting’s main focus was to reduce the costs incurred in the process of providing ADSL, but Oftel was unwilling to comment on how it would achieve this.

Oftel's investigation will be into the costs of co-location space. This is the space in local exchanges other telcos need to provide ADSL to homes and businesses.

[see our previous story]