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Broadband-for-all possible by 2005 – BT

Telco sets triggers for 2300 more exchanges

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Blanket coverage of affordable broadband in the UK could happen by 2005, BT says.

The UK's dominant fixed line telco is to extend its demand registration scheme for ADSL by setting triggers for a further 2300 exchanges, serving some two million homes and businesses.

The scheme enables BT to map demand for broadband in areas currently not served by ADSL. If enough people register their interest, then BT will convert the exchange.

Previously, these exchanges had no trigger level leaving ADSL wanna-haves in a state of limbo, simply not knowing if their local exchange was likely to be commercially viable for broadband or not.

If - and it's a big 'if' - all these exchanges are converted to broadband, then 99 per cent of the UK would have access to an ADSL-enabled exchange.

Despite today's announcement, it still means that 600 of the "very smallest exchanges" are without a trigger level. BT claims that these exchanges - serving around 100,000 households in total - will require different "partnership investment approaches" if they are to receive broadband.

BT also acknowledged that it would also have to look at the problem of the "small percentage" of people who live in DSL-enabled areas but who cannot get it, because of such issues as line quality.

In a statement BT said that "100 per cent broadband coverage of every UK community is achievable by 2005 if industry and government pull together".

Its words echo that of e-minister Stephen Timms, who (now here's a coincidence) only last week called for the UK to "take the next major step and deliver broadband availability to every community by the end of 2005".

In a statement BT chief exec Ben Verwaayen admitted that there was still much to do and called on further public/private sector partnerships to get things moving.

"Setting triggers does not by itself deliver broadband, and we should all be impatient to speed the process up. Partnerships will do this and ensure that the UK leads the world’s large economies in becoming 100 per cent broadband-enabled with rapid take-up of broadband by citizens and business," he said. ®

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