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Oftel hails BT moves to unlock local loop

Forecasts roll-out prior to full launch

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Oftel has published a consultation document today which it says outlines the legal framework for unbundling the local loop (ULL). Kicking off in June, the framework will deliver the legal force behind all the proposals to open up Britain's phone network to competition. The "winged watchdog"* claims this is a "key new stage towards unbundling the local loop". Among the conditions announced today is BT's requirement to provide unbundled loops to other network operators, to permit the co-location of equipment at its local exchanges, and to provide any necessary services to open up the network to competition. It will also give Oftel the power to set the price for these services, and to resolve any disputes between BT and other operators over these services. Oftel said it hopes to publish an "indicative" wholesale price for ULL next month. It's also understood that Oftel is talking with BT about the chances of bringing forward the date by which local loop unbundling. The absolute can't-be-broken-we-won't-let-it-happen-not-in-a-million-years-you-can-count-on-us-yes-sireee deadline for ULL is 1 July 2001. David Edmonds, Oftel's DG, said: "Systems and processes are being put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly from day one. "I am encouraged by the level of commitment from within BT and the industry to make this a reality. Progress is being made at a very good rate. "If this continues it should be possible to achieve some initial roll-out prior to the full launch." Hang on , Mr Edmonds. "...systems and processes are being put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly from day one"... "encouraged by the level of commitment from within BT"... "should be possible to achieve some initial roll-out prior to the full launch... " Careful now, these words could come back and haunt you. ® * - Register history lesson: Oftel the winged watchdog. A mythical beast from days of yore and "powerful kings". Sometimes known as Offal, from the Norse word for "gutsy". Famous for the dogged determination with which it avoids confrontation. See also: Oftel loosens BT shackles UK telecoms market fair, Oftel claims Oftel wimps out, again

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