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‘Touch and go’ whether BT will hit 1m BB target

Report reckons it could miss

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BT may fall short of reaching its target of one million broadband customers by the end of June, according to a report just published.

Enders Analysis reports that the wholesale take-up of BT's DSL service is currently growing at an "exceptional" pace and that this would have to be sustained until the summer for BT to meet its target.

During January, the report says BT Wholesale connected 70,000 ADSL lines, compared to an average of 50,000 a month during Q3 2002.

This is disputed by BT Wholesale, which said that in January more than 80,000 DSL lines were connected. It also claims that connection rates are accelerating with 25,000 connected in the first week of February alone.

As long as these levels of take-up are sustained then BT looks set to hit its target. A spokesman for BT Wholesale said the telco remains "absolutely confident" that it will do so.

But Enders Analysis isn't so sure, which is why it is taking a more cautious approach, suggesting that it would be "touch-and-go" whether BT Wholesale hits its million mark.

Of course, whether BT misses its target by a few weeks is not really of any great consequence. The important thing is that with more than 650,000 DSL connections in the UK, broadband is beginning to make its mark. But at what cost?

According to the report, BT has been forced to rethink its broadband strategy following the "disappointing" take-up of its much-hyped, no-frills, access-only BT Broadband service.

When it was launched last year some analysts predicted that this access-only product could sign the death warrant for traditional service and content-included ISPs.

But with only 100,000-plus customers so far and millions spent on promoting the product, BT is still way-off the tough 500,000 target it set itself for the end of June.

Publicly, BT is still optimistic that it will hit this target, something challenged by Enders Analysis.

Perhaps more interesting, though, is the fact that BT Broadband's failure to catch on as hoped has breathed new life into the telco's ISP, BT Openworld, which was effectively kicked into the long-grass last year.

Now it seems BT is ready to spend cash on it once again in a bid to increase numbers and help it reach the million. ®

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