Ofcom turns focus on unbundling

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Ofcom turns focus on unbundling

Antony Savvas
Ofcom sets out agenda to help UK business at the Enterprise Networks show

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom laid out its priorities for business users at the CMA broadband conference at last week's Enterprise Networks show.

Top of the agenda are business numbering, voice over broadband (VoB), local loop unbundling and the freeing up of wireless spectrum for data services.

Ofcom said unbundling the local loop - enabling DSL to work on non-BT infrastructure - is essential if the UK is to have an alternative network infrastructure for broadband that lets firms choose different suppliers that offer niche business services.

Less than 0.03% of the UK's phone lines have been unbundled, compared to 8% of lines in France, which leads Europe on unbundling.

Kip Meek, Ofcom senior partner for content and competition, said regulatory priorities include accommodating a special numbering code for businesses - 055. A decision on the introduction of an 056 code for businesses wanting distinct numbers for VoB will be made in August.

Eli Katz, co-founder of the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association, said that in Japan six million users were already using VoB. Europe has 100,000 VoB users, but there are only 10,000 in the UK - most of them domestic consumers using freeware solutions.

Katz said, "Local loop unbundling is the main driver for delivering the sort of services we are seeing in Japan."

Ofcom is also seeking to recycle allocated and unused spectrum more quickly to deliver wireless broadband to rural areas.

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