April 12, 2001, 4:21 PM — As the United Kingdom continues to struggle to roll out asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and other broadband Internet services, companies and politicians are beginning to complain about the delays.
The government agency that regulates the United Kingdom's telecommunications industry, the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), put out a statement in November 1999 that British Telecommunications (BT) has a monopoly on the local network lines. To encourage competition, Oftel directed BT to lease access to the local loop and to upgrade it. BT was given a deadline of July 2001. "The U.K. needs to look at issues such as continuing monopolies and the speed with which BT is moving to offer broadband. We've been looking at the issues of local-loop unbundling for far too long," said Michael Portillo, a leading Conservative member of Parliament, while speaking at the opening of GlobalCenter's new 42,500-square-foot data center in London's Docklands area on Oct. 5.
The lack of broadband will hit small and midsize enterprises hardest, says Susan Thomson, an analyst in the London office of Dataquest, a market research company. That's keeping the United Kingdom as a whole restricted to ISDN speeds, she says. ISDN runs about one-tenth the speed of ADSL.