Ofcom is appointing a regulator to watch over local loop unbundling - the process of disconnecting the last mile of BT's network from the exchange to the customer's home or office.
Oftel, Ofcom's predecessor tried to encourage unbundling from 1999 - but with little success. According to Ofcom, unbundling will help speed availability of what it calls "the second generation of broadband services", such as "Voice over Broadband".
Peter Black has been appointed as independent Telecoms Adjudicator - he will sort out disputes over access to exchanges. Black previously worked at BT, Thus and NTL. BT has accepted the authority of the of adjudicator and agreed to accept his decisions. Twelve other companies, including AOL, Bulldog, Cable & Wireless, Thus and Wanadoo, have signed up.
Stephen Carter, chief executive of Ofcom said: "We welcome BT's commitment to making the process work, we welcome the fact that 12 of the most significant companies have signed up to the independent Adjudicator scheme; and we hope this drives growth in the future."
Despite BT cutting wholesale prices by up to 70 per cent in May, there are still operational problems, which prevent effective access to the local loop, some operators say. ®