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C&W goes large on LLU

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Cable & Wireless is accelerating its broadband rollout by doubling its investment in local loop unbundling (LLU).

Through its LLU ISP, Bulldog, C&W has already installed its kit in 400 BT exchanges enabling the firm to provide broadband services direct to punters.

It has already hit its target of unbundling 400 BT exchanges seven months ahead of schedule, which means that a third of UK punters are wired up to an exchange served by Bulldog.

It now plans to invest even more in broadband and wire up a further 400 exchanges by the end of next year.

"This will increase our investment losses in 2005/6 but we see it as vital in capturing the real and increasing UK customer demand for broadband," said the company in a statement today.

C&W's decision to invest more in LLU - the process that enables rival companies to provide telecoms services direct to end users by cutting BT out of the loop - comes as regulator Ofcom is about to utter its latest pronouncement on the future direction of the UK's telecoms market.

It's spent the last 18 months trying to figure out how to promote competition in the UK's telecoms sector at a time when former monopoly BT still retains a dominant position, especially in the provision of wholesale broadband.

Indeed, C&W's decision to ramp up its investment in LLU is based on the premise that the regulatory framework will not be skewed in favour of BT.

"In particular, Ofcom's Strategic Telecoms Review provides an opportunity to create a more transparent and effective regulatory regime in the UK. We are encouraged by the review's emphasis on infrastructure-based competition and the principle of equivalence.

"It is vital, however, the review delivers an effective and enforceable regulatory settlement. Fair competition must be at the heart of the UK telecoms market if customers are to benefit from the variety of services that new technologies can offer," it said.

Publishing its results for the 12 months to the end of March, C&W reported that revenues dipped to £3.22bn from £3.67bn. At the same time profit before tax and exceptional items rose from £278m to £377m. ®

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