Office of Telecommunications (Oftel)
has reported “significant progress” in moves to unbundle
BT’s local loop, with 14 companies to participate in trials
of high-speed services starting in January 2001.
Oftel added that from September this year companies will be
able to place orders for renting space in BT’s local
exchanges for the co-location of their own equipment.
The deadline for the installation of equipment remains
July 2001, although Oftel does not rule out an improved
timetable if BT and the industry make sufficient progress.
David Edmonds, Director General of Telecommunications, said
he was pleased with the “real progress” made so far, and
that it showed the strong commitment to introduce local
loop unbundling as soon as possible.
“The industry has selected 14 companies to run trials of the new
services in four areas. Work will shortly begin to prepare
facilities in BT’s exchanges and these operators will begin
providing high-speed services to selected customers by January 2001,”
Edmonds said Oftel is consulting on a draft licence condition
that will set out the legal framework through which BT will be
required to provide unbundled loops to other operators. He said
he expected this to be in place by June.
The initial trials of unbundled local loops will take place in
London (Battersea), Edinburgh, Leeds and Belfast.
The 14 operators that will take part in the trials are Colt, CWC,
Easynet, Eircom, Energis, Fibernet, First Telecom, Global Crossing,
Kingston Communication, MCI Worldcom, NTL, Telewest, Telinco and
Unbundling BT’s local loop in order to introduce real competition
into the market for high-speed services is widely seen as one of
the most far-reaching developments in the U.K’s Internet
industry. Many interested parties, including various Government
departments, would like to see faster progress.
Earlier this week, the
Department for Culture, Media and
issued a report that said fast Internet access (along with other measures)
was going to be essential for the continued health of the music
industry in the U.K.