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BT cuts price of DSL, gets arse in gear

Has the monster telco turned over a new leaf?

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BT has come good on its suggestion last month that it would cut the price of ADSL, by announcing a £5 a month cut in its IPStream 500 broadband service today. The service will cost £30 a month from 1 September.

Plus, despite media reports today, it would appear that the monster telco is changing its tune and starting to help with broadband roll-out - even help its competitors.

Incredible, yes, but the former state monopoly which carried the same arrogant mentality into the commercial world and alienated other telcos, customers, media, City and ultimately loyal shareholders, looks like it has woken up and smelt the coffee. Namely recognised that fast, extensive broadband roll-out is in everyone's benefits, including its own.

Of course, the roll-out is still far behind what we were promised both by BT and the government. BT is still hiding behind its excuse that the lack of orders is what has stalled ADSL and the government is just hiding.

But the worm has turned. In its press release, BT sells the price cut (and the formal announcement of its DIY ADSL plans) as initiatives that will "further stimulate demand". That may not seem much but to ardent BT-watchers, the change in language is immediately noticeable. Three months ago, the same press release would have said that it was in line with BT's vision or somesuch.

Oh no, hang on. BT Wholesale CEO Paul Reynolds: "This pricing initiative is part of BT Wholesale’s ongoing commitment to stimulate demand for broadband services in the UK." But it does get better: "We are eager to kick-start the market for these services and to continue to play our part in helping to enable broadband Britain."

It also comes clean about the pathetic number of lines that it has given to rivals: 179 it says; the FT pegs it at 163. Either way, it's pretty shoddy. But it does genuinely look like BT's policy of obstructing rivals installing their kit in BT exchanges has been revoked. And that can only be a good thing. We also received an invite yesterday to go and check out one of BT exchanges and see what it was doing.

We're not celebrating yet but it looks like BT's culture is changing in a desire to return to the days when it was the friend rather than the enemy of the people.

Also, here's a funny story. When the LLU was implemented, BT kept insisting that it didn't have enough room in its exchanges. Not strictly true considering the fact that several exchanges stand to be partly converted into luxury flats with £500,000 price tags. ®

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