Scottish broadband sparks complaint

BT could be in trouble with Ofcom next week, but the company is sure it has done nothing wrong -- except upgrade a rural Scottish exchange with ADSL

For years, BT has been criticised for not rolling out broadband fast enough, but for the first time, it could be in trouble for providing DSL services to rural Scotland.

Scottish & Southern, a power company trialling broadband over power lines in rural areas around the UK, has said it will lodge a complaint about BT to the telecommunications regulator next week. According to the Financial Times, Scottish & Southern is not happy that BT is offering its DSL products in an area that is served by Scottish & Southern's power line broadband service, but on Friday the company was refusing to say exactly what the problem is.

BT, which has often been accused of dragging its heels and resisting widespread broadband roll out in the past, said it is "bemused" by Scottish & Southern's actions because it has done nothing wrong.

A spokeswoman for Scottish & Southern told ZDNet UK that the company's chief executive, Ian Marchant, will be meeting with Ofcom next week and he will be complaining about BT's behaviour. However, she was unwilling to say exactly what BT has done wrong. "Because we are meeting with Ofcom next week, there is nothing I can say," she said.

Ross Cook, a BT spokesman, told ZDNet UK that he believes there must have been some confusion at Scottish & Southern's end: "If they can clarify what they are annoyed about, I'd certainly be interested to hear. We can't work out what on earth we may have done to upset them," he said.

The problem seems to be focussed on a rural part of Aberdeenshire called Stonehaven, which is where Scottish & Southern has been trialling its technology for almost a year. The town has a population of around 5,000 people and had its local exchange upgraded to ADSL in July this year, after passing its trigger level of 350 in April. "Stonehaven was one of the very first exchanges to get a trigger. We gave the decision to the people, they registered and we delivered it," said Cook.