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BT's 21CN Secrecy Hampers Rivals
By: MarkJ - 08 March, 2005 (9:23 AM)

BT's inability to fully disclose the details of its 21st Century Network (21CN) plans has been seen by some rivals (e.g. Tiscali UK) as a tool for damaging broadband competition, specifically LLU investment:

Mary Turner, chief executive of ISP and broadband provider Tiscali UK, told the trade and industry select committee last week that there was "very little clarity" about BT's plans for its 21st Century Network (21CN), and that this is hampering her own firm's efforts to launch high-speed services in Britain. "The 21st Century Network is still enshrined in secrecy… we need a debate with clarity and accuracy," said Turner.

Like many of BT's rivals, Tiscali is considering using local-loop unbundling (LLU) to wrest control of telephone lines from BT. After years of delays, recent action from Ofcom to force down BT's LLU prices has made the process more attractive. However, 21CN could now deter some operators from plunging into unbundling.

"Our payback time for LLU is two to three years. That's exactly the time when 21CN will be rolled out," said Turner. "We need to know with confidence that our investment in LLU will not be made redundant [by 21CN]"

In response, BT has highlighted its consultation exercise, called "Consult21", which allows such providers to learn more about their plans. Never the less, BT has admitted to getting this aspect off to a slow start.

EasyNet threw itself in by suggesting that BT should use LLU itself, thus acting as an incentive for them to improve it. BT claims that LLU and 21CN are two very different animals. More @ ZDNet.

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