Oftel is aiming to speed the arrival of unmetered Internet access with the publication of its Unmetered Internet Access Draft Directive.

The directive provides a legal framework for BT to provide other operators with unmetered Internet access over its network. This brings into force proposals announced by Oftel on November 13.

Oftel's director general of telecommunications Dave Edmunds said: "The proposals will encourage greater use of the Internet by allowing consumers to surf the Web without clocking up large telephone bills." The closing date for comment on Oftel's proposals is December 22, 2000.

Overload BT originally said that it could not supply a completely unmetered wholesale service because it was concerned that additional Internet traffic generated would overload its network.

To clarify this, Oftel commissioned a group of technical experts to examine the impact of growth in Internet traffic on BT's network, and what action could be taken to cope with such growth. The directive effectively maintains that such provision is possible, and sets out a framework for BT to deliver such services.

On 26 May, Oftel issued a directive requiring BT to provide services that let other operators supply unmetered Internet access over its network. BT presented its Flat Rate Internet Access Call Origination (FRIACO) agreement. Under this, BT offered other operators a flat rate tariff to its exchange, with an additional metered tariff from that exchange over its network to the operators network. Operators complained that it was difficult to provide an unmetered service when bound by a metered agreement

Last week Oftel published proposals set to define contractual terms between BT and other operators for unbundling the local loop. At the time, BT sources said: "It's a long and complex document. We will be looking into it and commenting to Oftel."