Wireless broadband firm hits out over BT 'delays'

A company providing high-speed wireless services in rural areas claims that BT is being slow in supplying and repairing its connections

A firm operating wireless broadband services in rural areas has claimed that the rollout of its network is being held up by a series of delays from BT.

FDM Broadband claimed on Friday that BT has been slow in installing the infrastructure that FDM needs to supply high-speed Web access in villages across the South of England. As a result, according to FDM, some potential customers are choosing to subscribe to ADSL, supplied by BT Wholesale, rather than signing up for its wireless service.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, FDM listed three villages in Berkshire and Hampshire where it says BT failed to supply in time a high-speed backhaul connection to connect an FDM wireless network to the Internet.

"In nearly every community served by FDM, BT has been late in delivering our link," said Karl Crossman, managing director of FDM.

"The delay was four weeks in Hungerford, six weeks in Kintbury, and nearly two weeks in Kingsclere. As a result of the six-week delay in Kintbury, we lost approximately two-thirds of our pre-registered customers. These customers probably took up the ADSL broadband service, which became available in the area during the delay period," Crossman added.

The row between BT and FDM came to a head this week following a number of disruptions on a link supplied to connect the village of Lambourn, Berkshire.

An FDM spokesman told ZDNet UK that BT had claimed that work was being done to fix the problem, but that when FDM officials visited the site there was no evidence of activity.

"I am finding BT's delays intolerable," said Karl Crossman, managing director of FDM.

"I have no way of assessing the validity of BT's excuses, but I do know that the users who have worked with me to bring broadband to their villages are now being denied service. Ironically, it is the community's frustration with BT's ADSL roll-out that lead them to turn to us in the first place."

A BT spokesman wasn't able to immediately confirm the details of FDM's allegations, but said that BT is treating the complaint seriously.

FDM has filed a complaint with telecommunications regulator Oftel. However, the complaint will be handled by Ofcom, which will replace Oftel at the end of this year.