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UK's e-minister backs Oftel

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Britain's Minister for e-commerce has turned herself into something of an oddity by becoming one of the few people to openly back Oftel and the way it's handled local loop unbundling (LLU).

Such a move sticks out like an inflamed haemorrhoid as people have lined up to slam Oftel's management of the complicated process.

In an interview with Reuters Patricia Hewitt voiced her support for Oftel's DG, David Edmonds, and scoffed at claims that BT is operating a "black list" of exchanges which the monster telco claims are unsuitable for co-location of DSL equipment.

The minister told Reuter: "Oftel has made it plain it doesn't accept the concept of a black list and if BT was to refuse any operator using that black list as a reason then Oftel would challenge them and inspect the site."

Of course, such inspections so late in the day would not be necessary had Oftel carried out an independent audit of exchanges before it embarked on the LLU process, an omission that only highlights the winged watchdog's naivety in its dealings with BT.

Hewitt also said that any disputes between telcos, BT and Oftel would only delay the process by a matter of weeks.

However, Hewitt's intervention has placed her at odds with the majority of Britain's telco industry. Time will tell to see how it reacts.®

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