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1,000th BT exchange triggered for broadband

'Great day'

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Needham Market in Suffolk has become the 1,000th exchange to be converted to ADSL as part of BT's broadband registration scheme.

The monster telco reckons it's a "great day for everyone involved with the registration scheme", which enables exchanges to be converted to ADSL once a set number of people register their interest in broadband.

"Rolling out broadband was always going to be a commercial challenge given the UK’s geography," said BT Wholesale bigwig Bruce Stanford, "and the scheme has been instrumental in speeding up the process."

Of course, as BT points out, it hasn't always been like that. In the early days the scheme was rightly criticised for being clunky and unwieldy. Many exchanges received no trigger levels at all, while others were set too high. ISPs also found the system difficult to administer.

It was so bad that Todmorden - which became the first exchange to be converted to ADSL via the scheme - nearly didn't make it.

But, when BT finally sorted out those problems and set trigger levels that were realistic, the registration scheme began to be seen as something that really could map demand for broadband.

Last November, BT set triggers for a further 2300 exchanges, serving some two million homes and businesses. It leaves just 600 of the "very smallest exchanges" in the UK without trigger levels - exchanges BT insists are simply not commercially viable to be converted to ADSL.

Since the scheme was first launched in July 2002, it has received more than 700,000 registrations. Now the idea is being picked up by other countries including France and Australia as a way to roll-out broadband based on demand. ®

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