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UK reaches a million unbundled lines

BT hits the seven-figure mark in its local loop unbundling programme, and the telecoms adjudicator is 'very pleased' with the telco's progress
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

One million lines have been unbundled from BT's telephone exchanges, the telco said, as part of its local loop unbundling programme.

Local loop unbundling (LLU) is the process whereby competitors to BT are able to install their own equipment in BT's exchanges. This lets the operators manage their own lines and potentially offer a wider range of broadband services than can be bought wholesale from BT.

BT's Openreach division, which provides installation and maintenance services on behalf of other telcos, is responsible for the LLU process. Openreach's chief executive Steve Robertson said, "This is a fantastic achievement for the whole of industry and demonstrates that the UK has one of the most competitive broadband markets in the world."

Telecoms adjudicator Peter Black praised Openreach for achieving the one million mark, but added that there was still work to be done to achieve Openreach's target of 98 percent "right first time" delivery of unbundled lines.

"It's a great thing to get to one million, we're very pleased from that perspective," Black told ZDNet UK. "We've seen the figures [for right first time delivery] start to get better. It's gone from 78 to 80 percent [since the beginning of October]. The key issue is sustainability — making sure this carries on."

Although the criteria for right first time delivery are necessarily stringent, Black said that one in five orders were still failing. Work on distribution frames — devices vital to unbundling which are located in exchanges — still needed to improve, said the telecoms adjudicator.

"We've seen a huge upsurge of work on [distribution] frames, but the quality of that work has deteriorated. [However,] the second wave of actions should get better and stabilise," said Black.

Black added that his office's next focus would be on the LLU migration processes and making sure BT's new platforms were interoperable with other operators'.

BT is currently in the early throes of rolling out its 21st Century Network — a £10bn project to IP-enable its ageing public-switched telephone network.

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