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UK telcos in game of chance

Just like a game of Monopoly

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The future of competitive telecom services in Britain could be reduced to little more than a crap shoot according to official documents from the Electoral Reform Services (ERS).

Some 30 telcos have submitted their applications to install equipment in local exchanges as part of local loop unbundling (ULL).

But if the allocation of limited space cannot be decided - and there is a complex system in place to ensure that it is - then those involved will be invited to throw a die to resolve the issue.

Whichever telco throws the highest number will be the "winner".

Joe Wadsworth of the independent body, ERS - which is scrutinising the allocation process - confirmed that this game of chance would be the last resort.

He said: "I think it's unlikely to happen."

The process for allocating which telcos get to install their equipment in which local exchanges in based on a complex electoral system of the single transferable vote.

Both Mr Wadsworth and a spokeswoman for regulator, OFTEL, declined to explain exactly how it worked.

The results of which companies have succeeded in winning space in local exchanges are due in tomorrow. A second tranche of allocations is due in December.

Yesterday, Kingston Communications PLC, which is 44.9 per cent owned by Hull city council, said it had applied for access in up to 1,000 exchanges to provide broadband business and residential services to customers when the local loop in unbundled next year.

The services will be supported by Kingston's new broadband national network, which is currently being built alongside Colt Telecom.

Said Kingston CE, Steve Maine: "We are now rolling out our own national network capable of supporting these activities and hope that BT will work with us and other operators to make advanced services available within the agreed industry timescale."

It's not known if Maine prefers to use his cupped hands or a little beaker to throw dice, or whether he blows on them first before shouting, "C'mon baby, this one's for daddy". ®

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