BT and the UK's telecoms regulator, Oftel are facing a barrage of criticism over the way high-speed ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) services are being rolled out.
Residential Internet users and small businesses that consider leased lines too expensive have been telling Silicon.com how disillusioned they are becoming as ADSL trials draw to a close. However, David Harrington, director general of the Telecoms Managers Association (TMA), has gone further.
He emailed Silicon.com saying: "If ecommerce is to roll-out across the UK we must have universal broadband access. Oftel must take urgent action to consider and upgrade the basic Universal Service Obligation on the dominant operator (defined as basic, affordable, analogue voice) to provide affordable broadband of at least 2Mbps to every customer who requests it."
Harrington believes current investigations into leased-line pricing will take too long, and says that BT cannot be allowed to protect leased-line and ISDN prices any longer.
He added: "Analogue voice is yesterday's service and belongs in the brass-and-mahogany era. We do not want brass-and-mahogany regulations applied to the ecommerce age."
An Oftel spokesman responded that it would be prohibitively expensive to make sure everyone has broadband access, and said non-Internet users could end up subsidising those using ADSL.
He pointed out the TMA and others can contribute to the latest price control review. Current controls will be revised by 2001.
Meanwhile, ADSL trialists have continued to berate BT for announcing it will charge more for ADSL services from mid-November, even though it is cutting the speed of access.