Ntl to supply own ADSL to small business

Frustration over unbundling has prompted ntl to offer its own ADSL service, but only for businesses

Cable operator ntl announces Monday it will roll out its own ADSL service following increasing frustration with BT's (quote: BT) broadband rollout plans.

In the first instant -- rollout is expected in February -- the service will be aimed at small businesses but ntl does not rule out the possibility of extending it to the consumer arena.

"Cable modem is currently seen as the best consumer product but this will be reviewed over time," says a spokesman.

Ntl currently supplies a cable broadband service, which it offers free to users who take up its telephone services. While it will continue its involvement with BT's trial of ADSL, it admits to frustration over the process and sees going it alone with ADSL as keeping its options open.

"We have noticed problems [with the trial] and have found the timing frustrating," said an ntl spokesman. Ntl will now explore other platforms for the delivery of broadband -- as well as its own business ADSL service, ntl plans to launch a wireless broadband offering (it already owns a wireless licence) and is planning aggressive extension of its cable services.

Ntl is not the first operator to voice criticism over BT's unbundling plans. Other operators including Energis (quote: EGS) and Colt (quote: CTM) are currently pursuing legal action over the telco's slow ADSL timetable.

Ntl will however continue negotiations with BT and does not foresee legal action. "We don't need to take BT to court. We are in the lucky position of having alternatives," said a spokesman. It is now up to other operators to take forward the broadband revolution ,he says. "While BT is slowing down the process, we are speeding it up."

Its aggressive plans to go after the business market will put it head to head with the telco but ntl is confident its strategy will reap dividends. It is setting up a new division -- ntl business -- to realise its plans and will offer small businesses a combined voice, Internet, mobile service from £12 a month. Initially this will be narrowband.

Ntl aims to capture 30 percent of the small business market by 2003 and believes its regional expertise will make it a worthy rival for BT. "We are very good at local customer service because we are an amalgamation of over 12 cable companies. BT is a national company and doesn't have ntl's regional knowledge," said a spokesman.

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