Wanadoo unbundles local-loop plans

The ISP wants to have over half its customers using its own network within three years

Wanadoo is planning to have at least half of its customers accessing the Internet via its own network rather than BT's, but says its relationship with the telco is now all smiles.

Wanadoo, which is currently in the middle of a local-loop unbundling (LLU) trial in the Leeds area, is hoping to have between 50 and 65 per cent of its 2.2 million UK customers using unbundled loops within the next two to three years.

Wanadoo expects its unbundling drive, which will take place across several of its European operations, to cost €1bn (£700m).

The France Telecom-parented ISP may even spread the LLU loving to more of its users if it makes economic sense, according to Olivier Sichel, vice-president of France Telecom's home division.

"We need to manage the quality of the network," he said. "If I want to offer TV, I need to make sure of the speeds I offer my customers."

Sichel said that Wanadoo's decision to move towards LLU is part of its move to offer its customers a single networking provider from hardware — its LiveBox — to services, such as VoIP, video on demand and online gaming.

He added, however, that not all of the ISP's customers can expect to be part of the LLU switch. "It's not going to cover all the UK — that's just not possible. That's the job of BT."

LLU has been somewhat of a thorny issue for BT. Previously ISPs had complained the telco had been less than cooperative in opening up access to its network and communications watchdog Ofcom was called upon to step in.

That, according to Sichel, is now all behind it. "We were not satisfied one year ago with the conditions of local loop unbundling. Now it's very positive... I now think it's a fair price."