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EntaNet - ISP's Under Threat From CF/BT Lawsuit

Posted: 01st May, 2007 By: MarkJ
There are two sides to every story and today EntaNet has warned of the potential for higher broadband prices following 'Capital Fortunes' (CF) partly successful legal action against BT (here).

The court case began after BT mistakenly cut-off the broadband connections for CF and then refused to reconnect them right away. However the ruling in favour of CF could trigger ISP's to raise prices under threat of compensation claims:

[ENTANET] says it could lead to hikes in the price of broadband as BT and other suppliers look to cover the cost of further potential claims.

The action is being taken by a mortgage advice company called Capital Fortune which lost its broadband connection due to an accidental line cut by BT engineers. Initially, BT said that it could not reconnect the firm straight away. Capital Fortune however, applied for and won an emergency injunction that compelled BT to reconnect it without delay. It is now planning to sue BT for loss of earnings.

Entanet expects chaos to ensue if the mortgage company wins. “If this claim was to succeed it could destroy the UK broadband market” says Carol Davies, Broadband Business Development Manager at Entanet. “It will open the floodgates for similar claims by thousands of companies. BT and other broadband providers would be forced to raise prices dramatically to cover the costs of such claims and that, in the end, would not be good news for British business.”

However, Entanet is not expecting the claim to succeed, “The bottom line is that ADSL does not have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place. Most connections run smoothly, quickly and efficiently for most people, most of the time but, at the end of the day, broadband is a contended service that depends on connections being available and stable. BT or any other service provider – cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that access will always be available and always deliver the very highest performance.”

Instead of assuming that broadband will be good enough to support their essential Internet communications, businesses should examine all the available options before making a commitment. Businesses that want to be assured of having an always-on connection that will always deliver the required levels of performance should seriously consider leased line connections, says Davies.

“With more and more businesses relying on connectivity to support their business – and increasingly their telephony needs as well – it is important to consider which type of service you really do need. If non-availability of an Internet connection would cause significant problems, we strongly recommend something more than a simple broadband connection, such as a leased line which has the necessary SLA in place to support critical working.”

It is also important to have backup connectivity preferably using another provider or a different technology, she points out. Entanet offers multiple solutions and can provide both primary and backup connectivity as part of the same contract. The current claim being made against BT at the moment should serve as a reminder to all communications service providers that they should make customers fully aware of the potential limitations as well as the benefits of all the services they provide.

Typically all businesses should have a backup source and those using Internet access as a mission critical part of their operation may need to look at more reliable alternatives, preferably with an SLA in place (e.g. some unbundled SDSL providers).

In addition broadband is not officially viewed as being part of the country’s Universal Service Obligation (USO), largely because it’s still a developing market with several different technologies.
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