BT forced into U-turn on broadband acces

BT forced into U-turn on broadband acces
BT under pressure from regulators for network access; 1999 make or break on ADSL. David Manners BT is being forced into a major U-turn on broadband access to the network and is now expected to offer asymmetric digital subscriber line services (ADSL) nationally in July or August. Main rival Cable and Wireless expects BT to try and beat it to the punch when it offers its own cable modem service across its network from October. “BT is under pressure from regulators who may insist on unbundling the local loop, allowing other operators access to the network, and it’s under pressure from cable operators who are preparing cable modem roll-outs,” said Richard Medcalf of Cambridge-based telecommunications consultants Analysys. “There’s a general feeling that 1999 is the year BT has to do something on ADSL – to use it or lose it.” Equipment manufacturers confirm that BT has placed substantial orders for ADSL technology. BT is remaining silent about its intentions but does not deny plans for a summer roll-out. BT’s official comment is that it is still ‘in trials’ of ADSL. BT started ADSL trials in 1994. Cable and Wireless is planning its cable modem introduction on the assumption that BT will try and pre-empt its cable modem launch by the announcement of an ADSL service in July. In the US, regulators had to force telecommunications operators to adopt ADSL by allowing other operators access to the network to provide ADSL services. Traditional network operators were so slow off the mark that cable modems have now taken most of the US market for local broadband access. The reason for the reluctance of network operators to offer ADSL to consumers is that it will provide the same level of service as that for which they can charge businesses tens of thousands of pounds a year in leased lines. Business users will naturally switch to ADSL. Microsoft’s recent moves to invest heavily in all three of the UK’s biggest cable operators, Telewest, NTL and Cable and Wireless, is also focusing BT’s thinking.


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