BT to review HB trigger level

From Robin MacKenzie
Thursday, December 19, 2002

I said I would get back to you on the status of the Hebden Bridge exchange following your note to Pierre Danon (head of BT Retail)

So far, BT has upgraded over 1000 exchanges for broadband ADSL and we will upgrade more if there is enough demand to give us a reasonable return on our investment within a reasonable period of time. As you know, we have launched a demand registration scheme which allows people in non-enabled areas to register, via a service provider, their interest in ADSL. For over 600 exchanges, we have already set a trigger level which represents the actual number of people that need to register their interest before we will upgrade the exchange.

As you know, Hebden Bridge is one of the exchanges that was not originally set a trigger level. This is because we undertook an initial cost review of Hebden Bridge exchange and this indicated that the costs associated with upgrading this exchange would most likely result in an unrealistically high trigger level.

However, because we have now received 174 registrations of interest in Hebden Bridge, we have now instigated a second full cost review. Whilst this review has supported the initial cost review, we are currently looking for ways to reduce the deliver costs which would allow us to set a realistic trigger level. We will keep you informed of our progress.

In addition to the registration scheme, you may be interested in a number of other initiatives that we are actively investigating or introducing to ensure that people that want broadband have access to broadband, for instance:

We are currently looking for ways to reduce the cost of delivering ADSL - this is in order to reduce some of the current trigger levels (which range from 200 to 750) as well as set trigger levels at more exchanges. We are hoping that the results of this work will be delivered early in the new year.

Joint funding so we can share the investment risk - we have upgraded exchanges in Wales and Cornwall under this type of scheme and are working with partners across the UK to establish a further funding initiatives

We have also started trials of a new cut down version of our current ADSL solution which could be good for very small exchanges, or areas where demand is not that high. Trials are taking place in 8 areas of the UK.

In addition to this, BT is also investing heavily in alternative broadband technologies for areas that are simply not economically viable for ADSL deployment:

Already, BTopenworld has launched a 2-way satellite service aimed at SMEs, with monthly rental starting at 59.99 for the single-user service. For more information: www.btopenworld.com/satellite/

BT Wholesale is also running a technical trial of a fixed wireless service for the delivery of broadband services. Additional wireless technologies such as point to multipoint technology are also being looked at.

Altogether we believe that by mid 2005 broadband services could be available to around 90 per cent of households in the country.

In addition, our new 'midband' product will begin trials in the spring. It will provide an always-on e-mail facility with fast internet access at up to 128K when needed and will be available quickly to 97 per cent of the UK population."

I hope my comments help to explain our position. More information can be found at out website www.bt.com/broadband which is constantly updated.

Most importantly, I hope to be able to get back to you early in the New Year with the news you are seeking on the trigger level for Hebden Bridge.

Please do not hesitiate to contact me for further clarification