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Wholesale broadband costs fall again

Little by little, bit by bit

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BT has cut the cost of connecting punters onto fully unbundled lines, the UK's dominant fixed line operator announced today. From December 15, the cost of unhooking lines from BT's network and reconnecting them to a rival service will drop 40 per cent from £168.38 (ex VAT) to £99.95 (ex VAT).

The cut in connection costs relates to fully unbundled lines that provide both phone and broadband services, and follows a move in the summer to reduce the line rental for fully unbundled lines from £105.09 to £80 a year.

In a statement today Steve Robertson, head of BT's new Openreach division that is now responsible for local loop unbundling (LLU): "These price reductions clearly demonstrate BT's ongoing commitment to LLU and are designed to create additional certainty and confidence for operators investing in LLU.

"We are confident that the price reductions announced today will further boost demand and stimulate competition in the market."

Which is all well and good, but as welcome as this move is, price isn't everything. The broadband industry is also keen to see LLU simplified so that it can rolled out to the massmarket.

Last month the UK's LLU regulator described the behind-the-scenes problems affecting LLU as so bad it was giving "significant cause for concern".

"Current poor performance is being caused by a combination of automation instability, poor software problem handling, volume growth and resource shortfalls. This has led to an overall deterioration in the quality of delivery," said the regulator last month although the latest assessment record a glimmer of improvement.

But that's not good enough for operators who blame BT's cumbersome back office systems and clunky processes for making LLU such a misery.

Responding to the Telecoms Adjudicator's downbeat assessment Bulldog said the report "endorses the ISP's experiences in recent months".

"We share the Adjudicator's disappointment at the continued instability of BT's automated provisioning system, which diverted resources into managing the inadequacies of the system and impaired the quality of service we have been able to offer our customers."

Despite this, Bulldog is "delighted" with today's announcement from BT. ®

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