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Updated BT pulled out of a debate about unmetered Net access prompting critics to sneer at BT's apparent cowardice.

Angus Porter, MD consumer Division of BTOpenworld, cried off, leaving Matt Peacock of AOL UK and Erol Ziya of the Campaign for Unmetered Telecoms (CUT) to rip into BT unopposed.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that Porter was on a hiding to nothing if he showed up. However, since BT has already conceded that unmetered Net access is a viable solution, it makes his non-appearance all the more confusing.

What promised to be a lively debate at Internet industry conference, ISPCON2001 in London turned into a one-sided assassination of the monster telco and the way it has obstructed the development of Net access in Britain.

BT has called up the Reg to point out that ISPCON2001 had approached the company in November to ask if Ben Andradi, president and coo of BTopenworld, could take part in the debate. Andradi couldn't fit it in, so Porter was suggested as best alternative. But then he had to pull out, and notified the conference before Christmas.

A BT spokesman said ISPCON2001 hadn't come back to the telco asking for another debater. But couldn't BT have used its initiative and found someone else to take part, or does it only have two people clued up on the subject of unmetered access?

"Yes we could have found someone else - but didn't," said BT. ®

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