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Sir Peter Bonfield Speaks
Thursday 04 October 2001 13:41:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Sir Peter has been variously quoted at a number of news sites talking about broadband and the BT DSL rollout.

Perhaps for those who frequent the forums a lot the news of the DSL rollout perhaps pausing/halting for a while is not a surprise - we been posting comments from BTwholesale that they are to move to a rollout where it will be economics driven. Sir Peter's speach puts an official stamp on this - saying that there will be no x% coverage by end of 2002, but the coverage will be what is economically possible.

He talked about 3 areas - Supply, Demand and Policy.

Supply - The oft quoted 60% of house holds covered and cable modem access to around 50% of households, VDSL got a slight mention, as something BT are looking into. That LLU is suffering operators dropped out in his opinion, currently just 10 operators seeking to work in 300 exchanges. A new service from BT is for BT to install and manage a DSLAM for a user and the user can then do with the connections as they see fit.

Demand - At present four times the install capacity of what is been installed in enabled areas for DSL. Awareness of the benefits is a big problem, mainly in SME's which could benefit most. The consumer market is probably more price sensitive though and I suspect a lot of consumer demand is word of mouth driven at present.

Policy - He see's that there has been a pre-occupation with supply, but the long term issue is demand, i.e. if BT rolled out all exchanges would the demand really be there? A gamble perhaps BT cant afford at present I feel. He also makes a comment on pricing quoted here "However when it reduces prices, BT has to be careful that it is not judged by Oftel to be unfair to competitors. This aspect of regulation needs to be very carefully handled - otherwise a no win situation could be created for BT and its customers, not to mention the Government's targets.". He says that regulation should move from just ensuring that LLU occurs to perhaps ensuring that choice is extended and investment encourageed.

So lets hope that demand continues to grow - no accurate figures on number of DSL users, but inferring from one comment that BTO doesnt hold the majority of DSL users, and that BTO state 45,000 users, this suggests that the total of DSL users is greater than 90,000 now. Growth in demand equals more exchanges rolled out as the money becomes available.


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