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BT has shrugged aside news that it faces competition from a new company laying fibre optic cables along London's sewers.

Urband - a joint venture between Thames Water and 186k, the telecoms business of Lattice Group – has already layed cable in the sewers around London's Docklands area.

This year it expects to wire up the City, London's West End, Victoria, Hammersmith and Westminster, to provide wholesale broadband using cable that is both rodent-proof and water resistant.

Providing a wholesale service which - it says - will appeal to telcos, telehotels, and service providers, Urband claims it will provide a "true alternative to BT for 'last mile' connectivity".

Urband chief exec Roger Wilson said: "London is one of the world's major business centres, but its communications infrastructure currently falls far short of providing the capacity that businesses really need.

"Despite extensive digging since telecoms liberalisation began, BT's legacy network remains, for many businesses, the only option for true 'last mile' access in the capital."

However, BT gave a lukewarm response to the idea of running fibre optic cable in the sewers.

"We always welcome competition," said a spokesman.

"But London already has broadband coming out of its ears and they are entering an already competitive market," he sniffed. ®

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