BT publishing its 118500 directory enquiries number on the front of the BT phonebook
The Director General of Telecommunications ('the Director') has concluded that the conduct of British Telecommunications plc ('BT') in publishing its directory enquiries ('DQ') number on the front of the BT phonebook ('the Phonebook') has not had a material adverse effect on competition in the telephone DQ services market. Accordingly, there are no grounds for a finding that BT has abused a dominant position contrary to the prohibition imposed by section 18 (the Chapter II prohibition) of the Competition Act 1998 ('the Act').
On 10 December 2002, competition in the provision of telephone DQ services using new 118xxx numbers was launched in the UK. New DQ 118 numbers were subject to a period of parallel running with existing DQ numbers until 24 August 2003, when 'legacy' numbers such as 192 were made unavailable for telephone DQ services.
The Director received a complaint ('the Complaint') on behalf of several DQ service providers ('DQSPs') alleging that in distributing copies of the Phonebook displaying BT's new 118500 number on the front cover BT had leveraged its dominant position in the market in which 'white paper' directories are supplied so as to foreclose competition in the 'DQ market' contrary to the Chapter II prohibition.
Whilst the Director considers, without concluding on the matter, that BT is likely to be dominant in the market in which the Phonebook is supplied, DQ call volume data for 118 numbers originating on BT's network obtained during the investigation, together with supporting evidence, indicate that BT's conduct has not had a material adverse effect on competition in the market for the provision of telephone DQ services in the UK. Accordingly, the Director has concluded that BT has not infringed the Chapter II prohibition.