BT may face stiffer broadband competition

Local Loop Unbundling back on the agenda

The part that local loop unbundling (LLU) can play in rolling out broadband is back on the regulatory agenda.

Speaking to the Trade and Industry Select Committee inquiry into broadband development in the UK, Dave Edmunds, director general of telecoms watchdog Oftel, said Ofcom would look at the issue when it takes over responsibilty for the sector at the beginning of 2004.

The committee's interest in LLU had been piqued by earlier evidence from other ISPs and providers, who had brought the issue to the fore.

Freeserve told the committee that all major ISPs were constrained by BT's IPStream and DataStream wholesale products.

LLU has failed because the price of accessing the exchanges had been set too high, said the ISP. Entry costs have been around 150 per cent above Germany's and almost double that in France.

The committee heard from Freeserve that "a much more vigorous adjustment to LLU costs would allow rivals to break away from dependence on BT and develop new services".

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