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OFTEL Takes New Step in Unbundling BT's Local Loop

The U.K's Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL) took another step Friday in fulfilling its requirement to make BT open its local access lines to other operators.

Setting a brisk pace, OFTEL annnounced the launch of the official consultation period, with a view to getting the new licence condition in place by June.

With talks commencing, OFTEL is confident that high bandwidth communications for the mass market are coming closer and will soon be a reality.

Director General of Telecommunications David Edmonds said that opening the local loop to other operators will revolutionize the way people in the U.K. interact and access information.

"1 July 2001 is the absolute deadline for the full launch of local loop unbundling," said Edmonds.

"Systems and processes are being put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly from day one. A great deal of activity is taking place to resolve these issues. Preparations for the trials will begin soon."

Edmonds went on to say that he was encouraged by the level of commitment from within BT and the rest of the telecoms industry to making rapid progress.

"If this continues it should be possible to achieve some initial roll-out prior to the full launch," said Edmonds.

The condition that OFTEL is to impose on BT requires the telecoms giant to make unbundled loops available to other operators, allow co-location of their equipment at its own exchanges, and provide any services needed to ensure the new co-operative system works properly.

According to BT's timetable, installation and testing of the new system will be complete by April 2001. OFTEL wants to set an earlier deadline, as does the rest of the industry.

Responses to OFTEL's proposals have to be submitted by April 7, and comments on the responses by April 25.