Energis hires BPPA in fight for broadband price cuts

Telecoms firm Energis has hired Bell Pottinger Public Affairs to handle a lobbying and media relations campaign calling for price cuts in the broadband market.

The firm is claiming that BT has an ‘effective monopoly’ in the digital service end of the broadband market and is calling on the Government to force it to reduce prices of its wholesale services to firms like Energis.

Energis corporate affairs director Clare Waters, to whom the BPPA team reports, said: ‘Broadband is a complicated area and one that is not the easiest to explain – that’s why we felt we needed expert help.’

BT spokesman Michael Wadley denied the company had a monopoly in the wholesale broadband market, adding it had already reduced prices for firms like Energis: ‘BT has less than 50 per cent of the wholesale broadband market in the UK and only around 25 per cent of the retail broadband market. Some monopoly.’

However, Waters said these figures also include broadband services through cable.

She added the media relations and lobbying push would argue that any further price cuts will be passed on to create a cheaper service for consumers.

As PRWeek went to press, OFTEL was due to announce its decision on Energis’s calls for further price reductions.

The appointment of BPPA is the first external public affairs support hire made by Waters, who joined six months ago as part of a restructure following a difficult year for Energis.

In July last year, the firm narrowly averted collapse, thanks to a rescue package negotiated with its bankers.

Chelys, a consortium run by Energis bankers, ploughed £150m into Energis and took over the running of the firm. This included the drafting in of Archie Norman MP as the chairman of Chelys.

The BPPA team is headed by account director Malcolm Gooderham.

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