BT moves to 'universal availability' of broadband

Pre-registration scrapped

BT is scrapping its broadband pre-registration scheme after realising at last that there is sufficient interest in broadband after all.

The move is set to make DSL broadband available to 99.6 per cent of UK homes and businesses by summer 2005, bringing the UK "significantly closer to universal availability".

The BT pre-registration scheme was launched in July 2002 and was designed to map demand for broadband in areas not blessed with high-speed Net access. BT's position was that it was prepared to invest in the technology - as long as people were prepared to use it.

Since then, the scheme has generated more than 880,000 registrations and led to the upgrade of more than 2,000 exchanges, increasing availability from 66 per cent in 2002 to around 85 per cent today.

Now that the broadband registration scheme is being shelved, those exchanges that have passed their trigger levels - or are within 10 per cent of their thresholds - will be lined up an upgrade. Details of when other exchanges can expect to get broadband are due to be announced by the end of June.

BT's chief broadband officer, Alison Ritchie, said: "The broadband registration scheme has been a powerful tool for us to match investment to demand and its fantastic success, with the support of local campaigners, has set the way for other countries to follow.

"Now, as we move into more and more rural areas and we have a clearer picture of growing demand, there are real benefits to be gained through a planned roll out. This means we can deliver broadband to far more people in a shorter timeframe."

Today's announcement is set to deliver broadband to every exchange in the UK except for the very smallest, which account for fewer than 100,000 premises, according to BT. The telco said it would continue to find other ways of delivering broadband to these exchanges. ®

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