UK communications regulator Ofcom has fined BT £42,500 for providing “inaccurate information” in response to an information request regarding EE’s broadband service.
The information was intended to help the regulator estimate the number of premises that would be potentially eligible to receive a 10Mbps+ broadband service under the new Universal Service Obligation (USO), which went live in March 2020.
Ofcom published the data as part of its 2019 ‘Connected Nations’ report that provided a summary of broadband and mobile network availability across the UK.
The vast majority of the data, which was submitted by BT in October 2019, was correct. However, the operator is understood to have misinterpreted one of Ofcom’s questions, which asked for properties that could be served by their fixed wireless access network.
Essentially, the data BT submitted failed to discount properties which were near high network traffic locations – such as busy train stations – which should have been omitted.
This means that the original Connected Nations report showed there were approximately 155,000 premises that could not access 10Mbps broadband in the UK, when it should have been 189,000.
BT said they then “proactively” informed Ofcom as soon as they became aware of the mistake. As a result of receiving that new information, on 18th March 2020 Ofcom found itself having to publish an updated report containing “corrected estimates.”
Ofcom’s fine of £42,500 incorporates a 15% reduction to reflect BT’s agreement to settle this investigation by “admitting full liability.”
Meanwhile, BT has pledged to ensure greater dialogue with Ofcom in the future, which they hope will help to avoid further such mistakes happening again.
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