Easynet vows to unbundle more of Britain

By the end of 2004, businesses and households in another 80 areas across the UK should have access to Easynet's unbundled broadband services

Easynet is planning to start offering its broadband services from a further 80 local telephone exchanges this year, in a drive to continue competing with BT in the wholesale broadband market.

The telco announced on Monday that it plans to extend its programme of rolling out broadband infrastructure across the UK in 2004. It has already unbundled 149 exchanges, and hopes to increase this number to at least 229 within 12 months.

"2003 ended on a strong note. Our financial performance will meet or exceed market expectations in 2003, and we are looking forward to 2004 with confidence," said David Rowe, chief executive of Easynet. "The announced extension of our local-loop unbundling investment programme in the UK will extend our lead as the clear alternative broadband infrastructure provider to BT in the UK."

Local-loop unbundling (LLU) has been something of a flop in Britain, as in most European countries.

LLU forces incumbent telecoms operators -- BT, in the UK -- to open up their local exchanges and allow competitors to install their own kit and offer wholesale broadband services. It was intended to break the stranglehold that Europe's incumbent telcos enjoyed over their national markets in the 1990s, but in practice few exchanges have been opened up.

Firms and households in an unbundled area do have access to a wider range of broadband services that the rest of the country. For example, Easynet offers an 8Mb broadband product, which is considerably faster than any of BT's ADSL products.