In the EU regulators manage open access tariffs. Anyone can set up a telco and can buy wholesale components that they need - usually last mile and metro access - at a published regulated rate that applies to all players.
In the US, there's no such thing. Landlords sign exclusive access agreements with a single telco and a new entrant to the market might be told to sod off, or that the cost for building 'X' is $2M per annum. The new entrant can't ask an alternative provider to get into the customer site because of the exclusivity agreement.
I think BT and the other EU based global players (DTAG, France Telecom / Orange, Telefonica to some extent) are asking for the same access to the US market that US telcos get to European markets.