BT cock-up almost cripples island BB plan

Denies gaffe was deliberate

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A company looking to bring broadband to the Isle of Wight (IoW) claims it was almost crippled following a blunder by telecoms giant BT.

Broadband Wight (BBW) claims the cock-up cost it the chance to roll out a service ahead of rivals - including BT - putting back its plans to bring high-speed Net access to the island.

BBW project manager Paul Randle-Jolliffe claimed the company was "deliberately misled" after a BT Wholesale account manager failed to place BBW's order.

While mistakes were made, BT denies that the gaffe was deliberate.

It is understood that the BT Wholesale account manager at the centre of the row has now left the company.

So, what happened?
Earlier this year BBW ordered a mainland-to-IoW fibre link from BT Wholesale as part of a plan to bring broadband to the island. The company was formed last year to deliver broadband and low-cost leased lines to Net users and businesses on the IoW.

In June - just when the service was about to be launched - BBW discovered that the link had not been installed. And when BBW contacted BT, it was shocked to discover that the order had never been placed and processed.

This left around 20 local developers and investors - as well as potential customers - in the lurch, nearly bringing the company to its knees.

According to BBW, BT has refused to accept any direct responsibility for their account manager's actions or compensate the company.

"We think that BT should compensate us but they have gracefully declined any compensation," said Randle-Jolliffe. "It's effectively a 'sorry, nipper, not our problem' situation… it appears to have been a one person wrecking job rather that BT as an organisation.

"We have lost business and BT have some responsibility for that. We planned well to be first to market not second to BT.”

In a statement BT said: "BT would never intentionally mislead a customer. As soon as BT became aware of the issue, BT launched an investigation, and sought urgently to meet BBW's requirements. It was not possible to do this with the original product requested. We are still in discussion with BBW and do not think it appropriate to discuss any aspect of the matter further in public."

What next?
Now BBW has been forced to rethink its approach and has signed up with an outfit called Ceragon Networks to provide a high capacity radio link from the mainland to the Island. According to BBW, this approach should make its services even cheaper than those provided by BT.

Indeed, Randle-Jolliffe reckons BBW's broadband prices will be around 30 per cent cheaper than a comparable BT service, while its leased lines services could undercut BT by up to 55 per cent. BBW's new service is expected to be launched in the Autumn. ®

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