A lot of LLU to date has appeared to be piecemeal, with a few thousand customers getting connected each week. If the latest plans by Wanadoo for the UK work out, we could see well over 1 million Wanadoo customers on an unbundled local loop. More details and quotes from Wanadoo can be found at Silicon.com.
A crucial aspect in this dramatic move by Wanadoo is revealed in what Olivier Sichel of France Telecom had to say: "We were not satisfied one year ago with the conditions of local loop unbundling. Now it's very positive... I now think it's a fair price."
The €1 billion cost of all this unbundling is spread across Wanadoo's various European operations, but represents a massive investment, in a move to product a service that can offer VoIP, video on demand, Internet access, online gaming and more to its customers. A key component to this is the LiveBox unit.
Wanadoo started its LLU trials in the UK in August 2005, so it will be interesting to see how rapidly things develop. The competition may develop to the point where LLU operators are worrying less about competing with the incumbent BT, but competing with packages offered by other LLU operators.
One topic that is raised by this Wanadoo news, is that the company believes near universal coverage is clearly in BT's domain, which may not bode well for the future, since if BT is left providing broadband to the areas that are less economic this may stifle the desire by investors to give BT money to build a network that can exploit the technologies that already exist. Therefore increasing the digital divide in the UK. Clearly Ofcom and the government need to keep a ready eye on this part of the UK telecoms market, otherwise areas of the UK that are less densely populated will be left out as the 21st century marches on.
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