BT blames ISPs for ADSL delay

ADSL is supposed to end the World Wide Wait - but will it ever arrive?
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

BT (quote: BT) has delayed ADSL roll out for a fourth time -- this time to August or possibly September -- claiming it needs more people to test the service.

It will come as a shock to consumers looking forward to broadband services at the end of this month. While business services are still on target for launch this week, consumers will have to wait another month for equivalent offerings.

According to a spokesman for BT OpenWorld the telco is putting the blame on ISPs. "They say ISPs haven't supplied enough triallists," he said. "It is disappointing for all ISPs."

BT claims it needs to "flood test" the system before it rolls it out nationwide. "We are reliant on triallists to flood test it. We don't want to repeat the problems experience elsewhere in the world," said a BT spokesman.

He admits the telco miscalculated the timetable but is pleased that at least all the exchanges it promised to equip have been equipped with ADSL. "In March we thought we would be on time. We did shout it from the roof tops because we were very proud of equipping so many exchanges. We have done the bulk of the work," he says.

Despite this BT can give no guarantee the service will run smoothly when it does eventually launch and is also unable to give figures for the number of new triallists it needs to test the system.

Ovum analyst Tim Johnson is not impressed. "It is very disappointing. They are one of the latest [telcos] starting [with ADSL] and we are as far away from services as we were three months ago," he said.

Johnson believes the only comfort BT can take is that it is not alone in experiencing problems launching the high-speed Net technology. "This is almost a universal experience. Either it gets delayed or is rolled out very slowly. The only exception is Korea where it is going like the clappers."

Freeserve's chief executive John Pluthero has been a fierce critic of BT's ADSL roll out in the past, describing its delivery of services as a "disgrace". A spokesman for Freeserve admits the latest delay is frustrating.

"They [BT] hold all the cards and we are waiting to take advantage of ADSL. It is very frustrating for consumers," he said.

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