France Telecom has begun making a "substantial and significant" investment in the UK's telecoms industry to provide broadband services direct to users of its UK ISP, Wanadoo. The move could see thousands of Wanadoo UK broadband punters whipped off BT's network and provided with services via local loop unbundling (LLU).
Although Wanadoo UK is reluctant to disclose too much at this stage, it could mean cheaper broadband or, more likely, innovative and speedier services such as internet telephony (VoIP) and video on demand.
Wanadoo UK has made no secret of the fact that it sees LLU as the way forward for providing broadband. As part of an enquiry into broadband by MPs earlier this year, the ISP said it "would be prepared to invest in LLU provided access costs significantly decrease in line with the rest of Europe".
Since then, the cost of LLU in the UK has fallen substantially, and the industry has made great strides to turn LLU into a workable alternative to BT's wholesale ADSL. However, it was understood that any investment Wanadoo UK in LLU would not be made until next year.
But a spokeswoman for Wanadoo UK told The Register today that the ISP has already placed LLU orders with BT. She declined to say where the investment would be made or when the unbundled broadband services would come online, citing "commercial reasons". However, it's understood that the investment will be confined to "major urban areas".
"We are making substantial and significant investments in LLU in the UK," she said.
Earlier today, UK LLU leader Easynet announced plans to offer an unbundled wholesale broadband to operators and ISPs ®