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Oftel Proposes Open Access to BT Network

In a report published this week, Oftel, the UK's telecoms watchdog, has demanded the unbundling of BT's local loop, together with open access to BT's forthcoming high speed data network.

The proposals are made in Oftel's report, "Access to Bandwidth: Proposals for Action," in which Oftel suggests a twin-track approach is needed in order to encourage the early introduction of high speed data services to UK homes and businesses.

First, Oftel says that network operators other than BT should be allowed to upgrade BT's local telephone lines in order to develop their own services.

Second, Oftel says it will make sure that other operators will gain access to BT's upgraded lines "at fair prices," with customers getting a proper choice of services.

"Oftel believes it is vital that homes and businesses have access to this new technology and the services it will bring as soon as possible," said David Edmonds, director general of telecommunications.

"High speed communications technology is developing at a rapid pace. This will revolutionise the types of services that can be delivered over existing local telephone lines. One example is 'always on' high speed Internet access with unmetered charges."

Oftel's support for unmetered charges has placed the issue at the top of the agenda in the UK, and it follows demands from such companies as AOL (though notably not Freeserve) for action to obtain "always on" Internet service.

On major questions relating to access to bandwidth, David Edmonds said: "Regulatory uncertainty is removed from this key area of future communications infrastructure."



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