The Earl of Northesk
asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether recent opportunities for other operators to take advantage of local loop unbundling of up to 25 British Telecom local exchanges generated appropriate levels of commercial interest; and what the implications of this are for the availability of broadband/high speed Internet access to the consumer; and [HL415]Whether, in the light of the weak commercial response recently to unbundling of 25 British Telecom local exchanges, future availability of broadband services to consumers will be delayed. [HL416]
The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)
The 25 exchanges are the first that BT have offered to operators of nearly 700 going forward in the Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) process. These exchanges are not among those regarded by operators as the most popular. In the light of the commercial response OFTEL has agreed with the operators that survey and preparation of the most popular exchanges should be brought forward. Construction of co-location facilities in the highest priority exchanges should begin before Easter. Work is also progressing well on distant location where operators can connect unbundled loops to equipment installed in locations near to BT exchanges. In early January BT handed over facilities at four trial exchanges enabling the first services over unbundled loops to be provided by other operators.Apart from LLU, higher bandwidth services using ADSL over local exchange lines are already available in many parts of the country on a wholesale and retail basis from BT, and from Kingston in the Hull area. Cable modems, optical fibre, broadband fixed wireless access and satellites all have the potential now or in the near future to offer broadband services.