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LLU problems persist, says regulator

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The publication of the latest update concerning the progress of local loop unbundling (LLU) in the UK has done little to shed any light on the current troubles facing the industry.

On Friday, the Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator (OTA) released its latest progress report on LLU confirming that the number of unbundled lines now stood at around 90,000 with some 3,500 being added each week.

However, notes the OTA ominously, "operational problems persist". Indeed, the number of lines that are unbundled "continues to be negatively impacted due in part to a significant increase in the volume of orders entering the systems and a backlog that had to be cleared".

The OTA went on: "BT has identified process and system problems and work is in hand to further improve the quality of the provision process and restore the previous excellent performance. Those LLU operators impacted are also reviewing their processes to ensure they are robust."

Some industry watchers have jumped on this as perhaps explaining some of the difficulties that have hit Bulldog, the Cable & Wireless-owned LLU operator. The Register and other news outlets have been flooded with complaints from customers who claim to have been left without phone and internet services and who say getting in touch with Bulldog to rectify matters is near impossible.

Indeed, Bulldog has blamed BT for some of its problems and even threatened to make a formal complaint although the OTA reports that none has been received so far. In turn, BT has acknowledged that it has suffered some snags but that these cannot be wholly blamed for all of Bulldog's customer issues.

So what of this backlog at BT? A senior spokesman for BT told The Register that the problems referred to were a result of a software bug in the telco's back office operation that was only identified once the number of lines being unbundled started to increase. However, at worst this only led to a backlog of around 1,000 orders and this has now been cleared.

A spokeswoman for Bulldog told us: "We welcome recognition from the Telecoms Adjudicator of the issues that LLU operators are facing and that BT is taking steps to fix them. However, we cannot comment on the figures as these would include all operators. Bulldog continues to work closely with BT to resolve issues with the provisioning process." ®

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