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AOL UK delivers broadband ultimatum to BT

Britain faces ADSL crisis

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BT's position as both wholesale and retail provider of broadband services could plunge Britain into a broadband crisis that could see the monster telco in the High Court to answer claims that it is abusing its market position.

AOL UK has given Oftel and BT just 24 hours to come clean about the roll-out of ADSL or face legal action.

A spokesman for the ISP stressed that turning to the courts was the last resort and that AOL UK hoped the matter would be settled before it reached that stage. However, AOL UK's lawyers are already working on the case if BT and Oftel fail to answer its concerns.

Commenting on the fact that BTOpenworld installations of ADSL Net access is 20 times higher than that of Freeserve and AOL UK, spokesman Matt Peacock said: "We are not going to sit by and let this happen. BT's actions are a gross disservice to consumers of this country."

"We have only received a tiny percentage of the orders for ADSL that we asked for.

"This is blatant case of clearly unlawful market distortion.

"What we want is a clear and proper indication of what exactly is happening with the allocation process," he said.

BT has once again defended its position insisting that all the ISPs involved in taking wholesale ADSL services from BTIgnite are treated equally and fairly - and that includes BTOpenworld, BT's ISP division.

"The methodology for allocating ADSL is totally transparent," insisted a BT spokesman.

He said that the system for allocating installations of BT's wholesale ADSL service is "rigorously fair".

"BT always said it would be a leader in the second wave of the Internet [ie broadband] and so we are," he said.

A spokeswoman for Oftel was unable to comment since the whole issue is subject to an internal investigation following an industry complaint made in December. The telecoms regulator is set to rule on the complaint within the next fortnight. ®

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