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BTIgnite president hits back at ADSL knockers

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The president of BT Ignite has moved to calm fears about the sluggish roll-out of ADSL in Britain and reassure ISPs that the telco is doing everything it can to speed up and improve the broadband installation process.

In an interview with The Register Steve Andrews explained how BT Ignite has made great strides over the last six months to increase the supply of ADSL installations to all ISPs - not just BTOpenworld.

He refuted all allegations that BTIgnite (which provides wholesale ADSL access and also installs the technology) and BTOpenworld (BT's broadband ISP division) were somehow in cahoots dividing up the ADSL market between themselves.

Last week a senior executive at Freeserve called the roll-out of broadband a "national disgrace" and prompted AOL UK and Freeserve to threaten legal action if matters weren't resolved.

Both ISPs jumped on figures that suggested BTOpenworld had secured two-thirds of all ADSL installations in the UK.

"We keep ourselves at arms length from Openworld," stressed Andrews, a point consistently made by BT although disputed by some rivals and industry observers.

Andrews declined to comment directly on the current dispute between AOL UK, Freeserve and BTIgnite although he did express "disappointment" that that the issues "have been raised in public".

"There's disappointment that customers don't feel they can talk to us," he added.

Asked whether some customers were justified in feeling that the current allocation process for ADSL installations was biased, Andrews said: "I strongly refute that the allocation process is unfair. We've gone to the ends of the earth to make it fair."

And commenting on views that some ISPs have been held back because they have been unable to get assurances from BTIgnite about availability, Andrews said: "Tell us what you want to achieve and we will come back to you.

"If our customer base wants more, we can deliver more...although clearly there is an upper limit.

He insisted that "supply is now meeting demand".

Hitting back at criticism about the speed of roll-out for ADSL products Andrews said that initial research had shown that six months in, Britain was ahead of the US on the percentage of ADSL installations.

"We're reasonably proud of our achievements," he said, without wishing to sound complacent.

He said since BTIgnite started offering wholesale ADSL services last year some 35,000 customers had had their service installed.

When BTIgnite first started it was managing 200 installations a day. Today that figure stands at 500, subject to demand, although Andrews' goal is 700 a day.

But he conceded that BTIgnite would fall short of a target set at the end of last year to install around 70,000 - 80,000 customers by the beginning of April.

Commenting on the tortuous upgrade path that existing BT ISDN users have to face if they want to move up to ADSL Andrews said that he had a "hit team working on it" and that it was "working on ways to get round the problems". ®

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