The latest round of changes to the local loop unbundling (LLU) process have been met with a less than enthusiastic response from BT's rivals. They may not even be enough to keep the dwindling number of DSL trialists in the game.Oftel has just published the latest instalment of the LLU guidelines, which lay out the rules for allocating space for DSL equipment in exchanges. The rules also specify how space for equipment will be located in toilets, offices, car parks and other areas of existing local exchanges. But many of these provisions, which have been designed to cater for the expected huge demand for exchange space, may remain of purely academic interest. To date, all but nine companies have formally withdrawn from the LLU process, and none of them have promised to roll-out across the country in the foreseeable future. This means that demand for exchange space is most unlikely to exceed supply. Speculation is also mounting over whether the nine companies will stay committed to the process. Cable and Wireless refused to comment in detail on the developments, although a spokesman did stress that it had not withdrawn from the LLU process. But he refused to confirm the company was still actively committed to the process. Colt Telecom also refused to comment, but did say it will be making an announcement soon. Bob Cushing, strategy and development manager at Redstone Telecom, the only company to have announced plans to provide DSL using equipment outside BT exchanges, dismissed the new rulings as too little, too late. "It's all a bit irrelevant now," he said. "There isn't anything in this latest announcement to keep people in the process." However, Cushing did welcome an earlier ruling to force BT to change service level agreements and compensations by the end of April. Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, said: "We are getting to the point where people can either hang on and wait for BT to crack [and co-operate over LLU], in which case they'll make a lot of money, or hang on because they don't know what else to do. "In any case it will be two years before they get access to more than 30 per cent of the population. I think all these companies will be looking very seriously at other alternatives for the local loop."