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Allen & Overy (A&O) telecoms specialist Chris Watson has slammed Oftel's policies for the wireless industry
Before an audience of investors, wireless industry players and two Oftel employees, Watson said that the regulator was hopelessly out of date. "The regulatory authority has rarely been more out of touch with what is happening - particularly in the mobile sector," claimed Watson. In a colourful speech at an A&O seminar on the future of the mobile sector, Watson conjured with Greek and German mythology to ram his message home. While espousing the principles of competition law as the primary tool for regulation, Watson supported an "only regulate when everything else fails" attitude, but concluded that "the dinosaur [Oftel] won't lie down". Comparing Oftel with Procrustes, a Greek bandit who sliced off the limbs off many of his victims, the A&O partner lamented the equal treatment of all mobile operators regardless of market position. Other speakers at the seminar painted a bleak picture for an industry that has too much debt and is in dire need of investment. "This is not the time to chop their legs off," cried Watson. His criticisms are directly aimed at Oftel's 'Calls to Mobiles Review', which proposes controls on charges made by mobile operators for terminating calls on their network. "It's odd that Oftel doesn't use competition, rather than the more crude, more hostile remedy of price capping," he said. Oftel chose not to respond to the criticism.