UK - Ofcom has published a consultation on how it accounts for BT's pension costs when setting regulated wholesale charges for telecommunications services.
The regulator said the financial significance of pension deficit payments for BT means it will consult on whether - or how much - such payments should be factored in when setting BT's regulated prices.
It has begun a consultation with stakeholders asking if they believe there are sufficient reasons for changing the current approach and how it should be changed, if necessary.
This follows BT's recent results revealing the scheme's pension deficit of £6.8bn (US$11.3bn).
Ofcom sets the prices that Openreach - BT's wholesale access division - charges other communications providers to deliver services.
It currently uses BT's reported pension costs, excluding deficit repair payments, when determining regulated prices.
The consultation considers the most appropriate method of estimating the expense of ongoing service, which is the cost of pension benefits earned by employees for service in the current period.
It considers deficit repair payments and pension holidays. BT's regulated charges currently take no account of either deficit repair payments or previous holidays, although Ofcom is questioning whether these should be taken into account in its regulatory decisions.
Ofcom said it was also considering whether it should adjust the cost of capital to reflect the potential impact of BT's pension fund on the relevant parameters.
This cost is the return required by BT on its investments and assets for setting charge controls.
Ofcom expects to publish a further consultation on BT's pension costs in spring 2010.
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