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Updata goes a bundle on UK local loop unbundling

Danish firm eyes local councils

A Danish broadband operator reckons it will have unbundled around 100 telephone exchanges in the UK by the end of the year as it targets local authorities with high-speed Internet services.

In particular, privately-funded Updata is targeting local authorities in rural areas in response to the Government's plans to aggregate public sector demand for broadband and roll it out to areas not currently served by existing broadband networks.

Updata has already unbundled the local loop (LLU) in other European countries, including Denmark. This is the process by which telecoms operators access the incumbent telco's network so they can provide services direct to homes and businesses. In September 2003, it unbundled its first exchanges in Dorset and as of today, it has installed its kit in eight BT telephone exchanges providing SDSL services to council offices and other public sector premises.

Thanks to deals with local authorities in Bedfordshire, Dorset, North Somerset and Pembrokeshire, Updata plans to have 100 exchanges unbundled by the end of the year, providing services over as many as 3,000 telephone lines.

Said Updata director Vic Baldorino: "There is no mystery surrounding LLU or its pricing. We can quote an affordable cost per exchange and per line on symmetrical services from 1-100MB. LLU allows new assets to be built and we're keen to unbundle in areas of the UK that other providers will be reticent to touch."

Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, is throwing its weight behind LLU as a way of providing greater wholesale competition for broadband operators. In response to pressure from Ofcom, BT has already cut LLU costs and has signalled its intention to co-operate with rivals keen to open it network.

Ofcom is currently reviewing LLU in the UK. This month it appointed Peter Black - who previously worked at BT, Thus and NTL - as an independent Telecoms Adjudicator to sort out disputes over access to exchanges. BT has accepted the authority of the adjudicator and will accept his decisions. Twelve other companies, including AOL, Bulldog, Cable & Wireless, Thus and Wanadoo, have also signed up. ®

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