In hopes of boosting competitive broadband network services in rural areas, British telecom regulator Ofcom has ordered dominant national operator BT to slash its wholesale broadband access rates to eleven percent below the rate of inflation for the next three years. Handed down on Wednesday, the directive is intended to facilitate access to BT’s broadband network by rival Internet service providers (ISPs) who require resale access to the BT network to offer their own broadband services in rural regions. Owing to the dearth of available broadband infrastructure in rural areas, BT charges competitors higher wholesale rates for access to its rural broadband network than it charges for network access in more populated areas. Announcing the new policy, Ofcom said it “expects these price cuts to generate more competition between retail [ISPs] and to lead to cheaper retail prices which will benefit consumers.” The regulator also predicted that its directive “may also lead to better-quality services by enabling ISPs to allocate more bandwidth per customer” that, in turn, could boost broadband service speeds. Rates charged by BT for retail network access are not impacted by the Ofcom decree. Noting that, “despite the higher costs involved, BT Retail’s consumer broadband products have always been priced the same in rural areas as in urban areas,” a BT official described the ruling as “more relevant to those ISPs who currently charge a supplement in rural areas.”