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BT holds aloft a small trident of hope
Wednesday 26 June 2002 22:45:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BT has today announced a new three-pronged approach to getting ADSL technology to 45,000 more businesses in the UK. The three prongs are: local partnerships to produce seven similar projects to Cornwall’s ACT NOW partnership, specific support services aimed at SMEs and finally a SDSL trial in late autumn in conjunction with Bulldog.

The main area of interest to both SMEs and home users are the seven partnership projects, these follow on from the success of the ACT NOW broadband access scheme in Cornwall, which was launched in April 2002. BT are working to establish seven partnerships which cover the areas of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and Dundee (in Scotland); Cardiff, Wiltshire and Swindon; Devon; Hastings and West Sussex. Also the Cornwall project will be extended to look at alternate technologies to extend the coverage of broadband in that county. If all these projects take off this will result in an additional 90 exchanges becoming ADSL enabled. This means there is a small glimpse of some light at the end of the tunnel.

As an indication of demand, within two months of the Cornwall schemes, the affected exchanges had 600 ADSL lines connected to them.

The second part of the trident is that BT is to work with 'Computacenter' to provide a Subscription Computing support service to small business and enterprises. The aim is to provide levels of support that up till now have only been possible for companies with large IT departments.

The third and final part of the trident is a partnership with Bulldog to provide an SDSL trial in London – due to start in the late autumn of 2002. The trial is aimed at SME customers and will provide multiple voice channels and IP connectivity over the SDSL line. The symmetric nature of SDSL makes it ideal for this, allowing companies to expand the number of phone lines without the problems of getting new copper connected to the premises. The trial will involve around 30 SMEs initially in the central London area. If the trial is successful then it’s expected that over 500 customers will be connected to the service by the end of March 2004.

Lets hope that these announcements mark a turn around for people who have virtually given up on seeing further ADSL rollout. The news on the possibility of a further 90 exchanges seems a little odd that this wasn’t mentioned in the BT press release just over a week ago. Though as seen with the ACT NOW partnership in Cornwall, BT was very quiet about it all until the fund holders behind the scheme were ready to announce it.

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