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Bulldog to extend reach of unbundled broadband

C&W to invest £190m in next gen network

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Cable & Wireless is looking to go head-to-head with BT after announcing plans to extend the reach of its broadband service to a third of the UK. Through its Bulldog subsidiary, C&W has already installed its gear in 320 BT exchanges as part of its local loop unbundling (LLU) plans and expects to have 400 up and running by the end of May - seven months ahead of schedule.

The broadband provider is currently weighing up demand for its own unbundled services and is mulling the idea of an "extended roll out that would take our market coverage beyond 30 per cent," C&W said yesterday.

While investment in broadband is to be welcomed it does raise concerns that the UK will be hit by a new digital divide brought on by telcos cherry picking the most lucrative urban areas. While major towns and cities will be spoilt for choice for low cost, high speed innovative services, the rest of the UK will have to put up with whatever BT can cobble together.

News of Bulldog's plans to provide high speed telecoms services directly to consumers while cutting BT out of the loop came as its parent, C&W, announced plans to invest £190m over the next three years in its Next Generation Network (NGN).

The overhaul of its core UK network should transform its existing five separate networks into one IP service platform. Not only would this be able to support whizzy broadband services it should also come on line before BT's own 21st Century Network.

For C&W, it should make the telco more competitive and reduce costs by £50m.

Said C&W boss Francesco Caio: "The rapid advance in IP technologies provide the opportunity for Cable & Wireless to lead the transformation of the UK telecom industry with the creation of a new model of telecom operator, where strong focus on customer needs and the development of new services is supported by a broadband access network and an IP core.

"The shift to Next Generation Networks together with our investment in local loop unbundling/broadband will further differentiate us from other UK operators," he said.

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