Discussion Papers

Ingo Vogelsang

Interconnection of Telecommunications Networks in the UK
Nr. 140 / Januar 1995
(no longer available)


The U.K. has been one of the world's pace setters in telecommunications policy. This is particularly true for interconnection regulation where 10 years of valuable experience provides the natural yardstick for other European countries.

The current paper describes (a) the institutional and legal conditions for interconnection, (b) aspects of U.K. network architecture and routing levels, (c) history and contents of actual interconnection agreements and (d) the current policy initiatives in the field of interconnection.

The U.K. telecommunications policy is based on the Telecommunications Act of 1984. The Act has established the Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL), headed by the Director General of Telecommunications (DGT). The DGT has wide regulatory powers that extend to issues of interconnection. The main regulatory tool provided in the Act is the operator's licence.

The main aspects of interconnection regulation are contained in the licences of all telecommunications operators. BT's licence in particular contains very detailed specifications of its duties to interconnect, of the items to be covered in interconnection agreements, of the method for interconnection pricing and of the scope for regulatory determinations.

Due to a burst in the number of telecommunications operators after 1991 the number of interconnection agreements has increased rapidly as well. BT, as the dominant operator, has to avoid undue discrimination and therefore is moving towards standardised interconnection agreements. This paper provides a detailed description and analysis of one such an agreement between BT and a cable TV operator. This agreement appears to be quite representative for fixed-fixed interconnection agreements involving BT.

Recent policy initiatives in the field of interconnection include accounting separation for BT, unbundling of services used by interconnecting parties and moves toward standard interconnection charges for such services. Equal access, local number portability, capacity-based interconnection charges based on forward-looking costs, and interconnection in an intelligent network environment are issues in various stages of discussion and resolution. Overall, the U.K. experience with interconnection offers useful insights for other administrations of the complexity of issues that need to be addressed as competition is introduced in telecommunications network services.

Discussion Paper is no longer available.

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