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Provincial outrage over BT's broadband upgrade race

Misfired email puts London in pole position

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The early standings in BT's competition to find the five communities where faster broadband is most in demand aren't encouraging for anyone living outside the M25, or indeed Zone 1, if an email to entrants today is to be believed.

It claims the current top five in the "Race to Infinity" are Bermondsey, Bishopsgate, Canonbury, Clerkenwell and Covent Garden - all in central London.

The capital-centric leaderboard brought swift condemnation on Twitter, from those hoping the competition will be a chance for rural communities overlooked by BT's upgrade programme to persuade it to reconsider.

"What a shock London tops the rankings for the BT Race to Infinity. :-/ Roll it out somewhere it'll impact, like Shropshire!" wrote one outraged provincial.

But Reg reader Bill, possessed of a more thoughtful outlook, noted that not only were the results strangely alphabetical, the Clerkenwell exchange is already scheduled for upgrade, and work on the Canonbury exchange is actually complete.

A BT spokeswoman confirmed the email was the result of a cock-up, not a London liberal media elite conspiracy.

"A test email was sent by mistake this morning, the exchanges listed in the email are not leading the race," she said.

To be eligible for an upgrade, at least 1,000 people connected to an exchange must register on the Race to Infinity site. The top five exchanges will be decided by comparing the number registered by the end of the year to the total number connected to each exchange - the higher the level of interest, the higher the chance of getting a fibre-to-the-cabinet upgrade.

"The email was not meant to go until the first five exchanges hit the 1,000 mark. We are currently investigating what has happened and apologise to customers who received this email," explained BT's spokeswoman.

So, pitchforks down - for now. ®

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