BT Wholesale has announced a scheme called 'Exchange Activate', that is intended to provide ADSL access at exchanges that perhaps otherwise would not see the standard ADSL deployment for a few years. The new scheme revolves around a Service Provider buying a block of 30 connections for a 3 year period. The intention is that sponsors such as a Regional Development Agency, or local councils meet some of the costs.
The scheme is very much at the consultation stage, with Service Providers been able to provide feedback to BT Wholesale, as to whether they think the pricing and level of interest would make the scheme worthwhile. The pricing indicated at this time is ~£55,000 for 30 connections lasting 3 years, or around £51 per user per month. Obviously this price is higher than the usual connection fee, hence the idea that partnerships are formed to reduce the cost to the end-users in the areas where the system is deployed.
The reductions in costs of setting up the scheme compared to the standard rollout, come about by using the newer ranges of DSL exchange kit that are smaller and cheaper. Combine this with using existing network connections to link back into the normal BT ADSL/ATM network and the initial costs are much smaller.
The actual ADSL as far as an end user is concerned is BT IPstream Home 500, and after the 3 years is up, the cost reverts to whatever the standard monthly Home 500 fee is (currently £14.75). An exchange can have multiple blocks of 30 users. If an exchange reaches its actual trigger level for a standard ADSL build, then a 'buy out' scheme exists that will reimburse some of the charges to the Service Provider, based on how long the service has been running.
For those that have not realised yet, this new scheme is based on the experiences from the 16 user community DSL concept trial. A final decision on go/no-go and pricing is expected around the end of March 2003, but the next couple of months give time for Service Providers and potential sponsors to provide feedback.
This news is most welcome, and while the pricing does seem a bit high, this may be part of the price of having ADSL in a rural area. Obviously if some funding can be found to subsidise the cost the price can come down.
If we find out more, we will let our readers know. If trying to enquire with a Service Provider about the scheme, remember that they may still be considering their options, which means it is unlikely sales staff will even be aware of the product at this time.
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