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Local loop unbundling farce continues

Oftel fails to do the obvious and essential

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David Edmonds - the head of Oftel - is taking full responsibility for Local Loop Unbundling (LLU).

"The decision to force unbundling of BT's local loop was mine," he crowed in a letter published in today's FT.

So, obviously, being the one to force through LLU Edmonds must have thought long and hard about how to make it happen.

You can just picture it - 3.00 am and he can't sleep. He's just decided to force BT to do something it doesn't want to do.

I can't wait to see the look on BT's faces when I tell them about this, he says to himself. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy - this is gonna be great.

Hang on, he thinks checking himself from getting too carried away. I'd better come up with a cunning plan to do this and he starts mulling the whole thing over.

I know, he must have thought - unable to get back to sleep his head buzzing with excitement at the thought of such a historic project - the first thing we'll do is an independent audit of BT's local exchanges just so that we know what we're dealing with.

You can't take on something as important, as fundamentally, historically important as LLU, without assessing what we have, what we're dealing with. After all, LLU would come unstuck if the exchanges weren't up to scratch. Any fool knows that.

Okay, we may not do all 6,500 of the beggars, he thought on reflection, but certainly a fair proportion. Maybe just the top 30 per cent, for the sake of argument. After all, we need to know that the buildings are fit for other telcos to install their equipment and that there is the space for them to do it. We need to know - so we can be ahead of the game and help prepare for LLU.

After all, this is BT, he might have told himself, the incumbent, monopoly telco and it ain't gonna be too pleased about losing its stranglehold on Britain's dog and bone infrastructure. And we wouldn't want to have to rely on them for information, would we?

Happy with such a solid idea he pulls the duvet up under his chin, curls up in the foetal position and makes a mental note to do something about it in the morning...

A spokeswoman for Oftel confirmed today that it had not carried out an independent audit of BT's exchanges and that it relies on BT to tell it about the readiness of its exchanges. ®

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