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Energis exits local loop debacle

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Energis has pulled out of Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) in a move that has further dented the Government's vision of a genuinely competitive "Broadband Britain".

The telco blamed the decision on the high cost of LLU and BT's massive head start for its decision, although it did say that would continue to review its position.

Energis' decision effectively leaves LLU dead in the water. Only EasyNet, FibreNet and Kingston Telecommunications remain active in LLU - a far cry from last year when 40 operators were involved in opening up BT's network to competition.

A spokeswoman for Energis told The Register: "The fixed costs associated with providing DSL, combined with BT's first mover advantage in the market, mean that Energis considers that any future development of services via LLU will be limited to areas of high demand."

"For the rest of the country BT will be the only DSL provider," she said.

Last month telecoms regulator David Edmonds admitted that LLU had "not been a success".

He said: "There is no doubt that the actual practicality of that has been a painful and often miserable process. There is no doubt that in carrying through the strict requirements on them, BT didn't behave in a way that I believed showed that they really wanted to unbundle the local loop to let their competitors into the network. At every stage we've had arguments and we've had disputes."

This is at odds with what BT Chief Exec Sir Peter Bonfield said earlier this week. Addressing the Royal Academy of Engineering he said: "Local loop unbundling has dominated the [broadband] debate, when it is a relatively minor aspect of the process - and one that BT wants to encourage, not discourage."

So far, fewer than 200 of the 33 million BT phone lines in Britain have been unbundled. ®

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