Much of what BT management said last week at its results indicated a greater enthusiasm for the role of wholesale provider, which is what it should be saying in light of the OFCOM settlement. That's fine, as long as BT can remain in control at the wholesale level, but this deal between OneTel (telecom/internet unit of multi-utility Centrica) and Easynet (on my list of emerging takeover candidates in the PTT battle for the IP Holy Grail) is a real poke in the eye for BT, and a sign of things to come. There is at least one other (largely unknown) player waiting in the wings to push this business model forward in the UK.
UPDATE: An uber-value reader writes in to suggest the following:
"How about the next big one being Telefonica? Looking at their aggressive line sharing-based announcements in Germany and their know-how, I could very well imagine them taking that business model to the UK as well - even more so after the establishment of BT's Access Division and the new governance rules for dealing with third parties."
Telefonica hadn't crossed my mind, but I can't argue with the scenario laid out here, particularly following the tortuous logic of the "IP-as-weapon-of-mutual-annihilation" thesis. In light of recent cross-border M&A trends, I might be inclined to think that Telefonica might turn up in France first, but maybe there's more upside left in UK market.