Two-millionth broadband customer for BT

As ZDNet UK predicted last week, Britain's dominant telco has hit another ADSL milestone. But is this good for competition?

BT confirmed on Friday that Britain's broadband boom is alive and well, by announcing that it has signed up its two-millionth ADSL customer.

This achievement, which was expected to be announced this week, means that BT has doubled its broadband user base in only eight months. "The phenomenal growth we are now seeing in the broadband market is excellent news for the whole economy, and for the UK broadband industry in general," said Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of BT, on Friday. "Over the next few years we will all have to continue to work hard to maintain this momentum, but I have no doubt that this is absolutely achievable," he added, indicating that BT is aiming to have five million customers on its high-speed ADSL network by 2006.

After a slow start, the UK has made significant progress towards becoming a broadband-enabled nation during the past two years. Verwaayen and his company can take a measure of credit for this, following BT's large price cuts of early 2002 and the launch of its broadband registration scheme. Both initiatives boosted Britain's broadband market, and also underlined that the telco had been guilty of failing to take broadband seriously in the past.

However, successful BT isn't necessarily good news for the rest of the industry.

Earlier this month, a group of MPs expressed their dismay that BT was such a dominant player, and on Thursday night Ofcom warned that it could take action to improve local-loop unbundling -- a process that allows other telcos to install their own equipment in BT's local exchanges.

BT, however, says that the UK broadband market is competitive, pointing out that over 150 Internet service providers resell its wholesale services.

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