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C&W backs Bulldog in restructuring

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Bulldog is to remain a part of the Cable & Wireless (C&W) business despite earlier speculation that the telco might pull the plug on the business and focus instead on the provision of wholesale broadband.

Speaking today, C&W UK boss John Pluthero gave his full backing to Bulldog and said he was "really happy" with it's performance. Last year the ISP, which has invested heavily in local loop unbundling (LLU), faced a probe by watchdog Ofcom following hundreds of complaints from punters.

Since last year's low point Bulldog has made "significant operational progress", Pluthero said, more than doubling the number of punters from 48,000 last August to 107,000 today.

At the same time, Bulldog's market share of its unbundled exchanges has risen to 20 per cent, while eight in ten orders are being fulfilled on time. What's more, the average time between when an order is placed and when it is delivered has dropped from 22 to 15 days, while nine in ten faults are now resolved in less than five days, compared to just four in ten last summer.

As far as Pluthero is concerned, Bulldog is the UK's LLU market leader and is something that "can build value for shareholders". With its kit installed in some 400 exchanges at present, and expected to double by September, the telco sees LLU as a "strategic asset" for the business.

Asked whether Bulldog would become a wholesale provider of LLU services, he said there was a "queue around the block" made up of ISPs keen for such a product.

"I could do it [provide wholesale LLU] tomorrow for a dozen customers," he said, "but it's not that attractive".

He rejected any idea that Bulldog's name had been "tarnished" following last year's debacle that saw the ISP savaged in the consumer press and probed by Ofcom. He also stressed that C&W's brand was strong too although admitted that it might need to be "refreshed".

However, the future of Bulldog only served a small portion of the two-and-three-quarter hour presentation Pluthero made to the business community.

In an earlier announcement, the firm announced plans to axe half its UK workforce and ditch thousands of customers as part of its restructuring plans.

As Pluthero explained, C&W has suffered because it is too complex and offering too many products. One stat he produced was that C&W supported 96 products that generate less than £5m in revenue. Instead, the telco wants to concentrate on large corporate and government customers that will generate large revenues.

As part of that push, C&W is reducing the number of customers from about 30,000 to 3,000. It has already issued 900 contract termination letters to punters and expects to have sent out 8,000 by the end of the year. By September, the telco expects to have reduced customer numbers to 18,000. ®

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