It's not just dialup pricing which is getting the attention of regulatory authorities across Europe. EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen attacked the exploitative pricing of leased lines at the Telecom99 conference in Geneva this week.

Liikanen said that while deregulation has improved tariffing in most areas, those for leased lines remain unacceptably high, and national regulators must investigate the situation.

The Commissioner backed up his statement with figures from an EC report, which indicate that leased line prices in several countries hugely exceed its own recommendations. For example, it suggests that rental prices for short-distance 34Mbps leased line should be between Euro 1,800 to Euro 2,600, but in the UK, BT charges run at around Euro 5,000.

The UK has the highest charges, but it is not alone in exceeding the EC's recommendations. France, Ireland, Spain and Sweden are also among the countries with high charges

Tim Pearson, chairman of ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association), commented "Everyone would argue that leased lines are expensive in the UK with the sole exception of Oftel [the UK's telecoms regulator] and BT"