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Anger as BT bins ADSL plans

Industry veteran hits out at telco's attitude

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BT's decision to can the introduction of a nationwide ADSL network unless it retains a monopoly has been described as an attempt "to blackmail the country" by a senior industry figure. Bob Jones, chairman of Equiinet, said BT's behaviour was "disgusting" and that it was time for government to intervene and take control of the situation. Only last week BT's financial director Robert Brace said that the telco was on the verge of introducing ADSL. Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported that BT had decided to postpone plans to invest £3 billion in the "Home Highway" service. BT claimed it could not justify proceeding with the service "unless the authorities reject demands from BT's rivals for immediate and full access to the new system". It was this comment that drew Jones' ire. "BT is attempting to blackmail the country," he said. "Company officials are on record as saying that the telecomms operator would be ready to roll out high-speed data access countrywide over existing telephone lines by August 1999," he continued. "Now it's saying that unless it gets a virtual monopoly over the network it won't invest in the service." Jones made the point that the majority of the network that would be used to host such a service, had in fact been built during the days when BT was a state-owned concern. This, he argued, made it incumbent upon BT to honour its promise to provide an ADSL service. "BT is acting against the public interest in holding back a service which is a national resource and is vital in keeping British industry competitive," he said. A spokesman for OFTEL told The Register that BT had not issued any kind of ultimatum and that discussions concerning the roll-out of ADSL were continuing. No one from BT was available for comment. ®

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