France crowned Europe's LLU Prince
UK still unbundling pleb
France has been crowned Europe's LLU leader, according to the latest data from the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA).
With around three-quarters of a million unbundled lines, France has recently overtaken Germany as Europe's top nation for local loop unbundling (LLU).
ECTA - a pan-European trade association serving the telecoms industry - reports that France only began opening up the incumbent's telephone exchanges to competition in 2002. Once the conditions are right for LLU, it argues, it can lead to a number of new services such as TV over broadband and internet telephony.
Said ECTA's Roger Wilson: "The French case demonstrates how joined up efforts by the national regulator and the EU and national competition authorities to promote a level playing field have created an environment that enables progress up the 'ladder of investment' and further innovation by alternative operators and independent ISPs."
In contrast, the UK only has a measly 13,000 unbundled lines although the Telecom Markets' Broadband Subscriber Database (BSD) reckons that this figure could explode to more than 800,000 by 2008.
As the cost of LLU falls in the UK and a number of operators - recently NTL and Cable & Waireless - have pledged to invest in opening up BT's network, reearchers at BSD reckon the take-up of unbundled services will rocket over the coming years.
By 2008, it's predicted that more than eight million people in the UK will be hooked up to broadband with around one in ten subscribing by LLU.
This month the UK passed another important milestone by notching up five million broadband punters. Of those, three million access the net using a dsl connection with the rest made up of cable connections.
"With some 50,000 new subscribers joining every week, the five million barrier was breached in mid-September", says Gareth Willmer, analyst for BSD. ®