Oftel paves way for better business broadband

The regulator’s ruling, originally expected at the end of April, means that greater variety in ADSL services may be available as soon as the autumn with symmetric DSL (SDSL) services arriving at the turn of the year from operators such as Thus, Colt and Energis.

After trials, BT declined to offer retail SDSL services, a decision analysts believe is due to fear of cannibalising its own leased-line revenues, but will now have to perform a u-turn or risk losing revenues to competitors.

SDSL provides a lower-cost alternative to leased lines for all but the most intensive users. ‘Thus and Energis will offer SDSL so BT is faced with either losing revenue to competitors or cannibalising its own leased line revenues,’ said Jan Dawson, analyst at Ovum.

BT is now mandated to offer symmetric services in six months and different ATM traffic content types within two months.

The ruling means that the trio will be able to move packets of data off BT’s network onto their own as close as possible to the user’s geographical base instead of having to install their own equipment at BT exchanges.

Because they will be able to deliver via ATM-based networks, the operators will be able to reduce prices and have a lot of control over traffic contracts, contention ratios and other factors so that it becomes much easier to produce differentiated services.

The ATM level interconnect will also allow an operator to increase the number of interconnect points to BT’s network, as there are around 80 of these exchanges in the UK. Thus, Colt and Energis operate networks that link to a large proportion of these exchanges.

David Edmonds, director general at Oftel, said: ‘Prices for these new services will be set at Oftel at a level that encourages competition between different providers of broadband services, and ensures that other operators still have an incentive to invest in alternative broadband delivery mechanisms.’

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