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News on the rollout of ADSL to 90% of UK
Thursday 03 April 2003 10:13:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BT Wholesale also announced some further progress on the rollout of ADSL. The demand led scheme is to remain in place, but 600 additional trigger levels are to be released between now and early Summer. The first batch of 200 triggers will be released within the next week. If all the existing exchanges with trigger levels get enabled, plus this 200 then the coverage figure for the UK will rise to 85% of homes from its current ~67%. We are seeing information suggesting that the 200 triggers may be closer to 170.

The best news for those without ADSL is that a way has been found to reduce the cost of upgrading exchanges, in particular the cost of the backhaul to the core BT network. A new system has been developed apparently that will allow exchanges to be linked together and then back to the core network, rather than each being linked individually. This move along with several others are apparently what will drive the setting of the new trigger levels. No comment is made on those exchanges currently marked as 'unviable' but fingers crossed, these changes in price model will allow many of those to become viable again.

People may remember the BT Exchange Activate product, i.e. the community Mini DSLAM trial. It is still going on and apparently will be launched this summer, pricing etc is to be announced, but it should help those exchanges who are just simply to small for the current DSL exchange builds.

Mr Verwaayen's closing statement is positive about the outlook for 2003, saying: "2003 could be a seminal year in the drive to achieve Broadband Britain but only if the whole industry pulls together with the support of the government. Such an approach would benefit consumers, businesses and the UK itself.". Which is very true, but the note of caution should be sounded, backing BT and its ADSL range is a one horse race almost. ADSL is not the end of the Broadband timetable, it is but simply the start on a series of Broadband technologies. It has taken BT more than 3 years to get to the stage we are at now, and as yet no signs of the technologies that are common place in other countries around the world. If BT or the government do not ensure trials of technologies like Fibre to the Home start in the next year or two, we will end up having to play catch-up all over again. Many who have seen Broadband in other countries will contend we are playing catch-up now.

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