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BT replies on the Stonehaven complaint
Thursday 13 November 2003 09:46:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BT has had a letter to the editor of the Financial Times published. The letter is a reply to the news last week that Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) were going to complain to Ofcom about BT enabling the Stonehaven exchange in July 2003. The full letter can be read here.

Mr Bob Downes of BT confirmed what we noted last week, that Stonehaven was given a trigger level back in July 2002, and since enough people registered their interest the exchange was ADSL enabled in July 2003. Nothing strange in itself - this has happened to around 800 exchanges so far, and another 380 have their service dates set also. What is interesting is the statistics mentioned in the letter, apparently Aberdeenshire which includes Stonehaven will have broadband available to 40% of households before Christmas. Additionally over half the households in the Highlands and Islands will be connected to an ADSL enabled exchange early in the New Year. Most revealing is the fact that the take-up of ADSL is running above the Scottish average of 5.6%. The coverage figures while not stunning are a lot better than 12 months ago, and as much as some people do not like what BT is doing, it is bringing broadband to many more people.

At the end of the day, the warning signs that BT may be enabling the Stonehaven exchange were present, and if local people registered and are also buying the service what is wrong with that. The SSE PLC trial in Stonehaven has been a trial, and many people may be reluctant to join it for that reason, or perhaps they did not want SSE as their ISP. This highlights one major issue with the alternative broadband solutions - people are generally tied to that single provider, at least with the BT Wholesale ADSL service there is a choice of retail ISPs.

Update The site appears to require registration, so while the full letter was originally visible, as of Friday 14th November, it is only visible to registered FT subscribers.


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