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BT drags heels over LLU

'Unacceptable', says telecoms adjudicator

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What was it BT Wholesale chief exec Paul Reynolds said in May last year? "We are fully committed to seeing LLU a success. We are committed to continuing our work with the industry to improve the operational processes surrounding LLU."

Ten months on from this heart-warming committment from BT, the UK's dominant fixed line telco is once again being slammed for failing to live up to expectations.

The Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) says BT's delivery of backhaul - the lines that link unbundled exchanges to rival operators' networks - is "still unacceptable" and that "this has been an outstanding issue for some time".

Those words carry a lot of weight. For ISPs investing millions of pounds into local loop unbundling (LLU), BT's failure to get this process right means that expensive telecoms kit could be sitting idly in BT exchanges because the telco has failed to provide the vital backhaul connection.

Plans are in place for the backlog to be cleared. But with LLU operators knowing that BT (in the guise of its access services division Openreach) is failing to deliver backhaul, there are concerns that some providers may be forced to postpone plans to provide rival broadband services until this issue is resolved.

Whether BT's failure to get this issue right is deliberate or not, the only winner in this "unacceptable" situation is BT. Whether the telco is dragging its heels - or its heels are being dragged - the result is the same.

LLU is failing to take-off as hoped and confidence among ISPs remains shaky.

One insider told us privately: "BT Openreach has failed at the first hurdle. It's failed to deliver the infrastructure on time to enable LLU operators to deliver unbundled services to consumers. This delays the whole rollout and is costing the industry tens of millions of pounds in additional costs and lost revenues."

And this from a company that is "fully committed to seeing LLU a success...and committed to continuing [its] work with the industry to improve the operational processes surrounding LLU". ®

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