Oftel, the telecoms regulator, and BT look set to fudge a European Commission ruling on high-speed Internet access.
The commission last week ruled that all EU member states should ensure that incumbent telecoms operators offer competitors access to the local phone loop by the end of the year.
This is aimed at speeding up the introduction of high-speed Internet via technologies such as ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), which offers "always on", unmetered connection.
Currently BT is the UK's only ADSL provider but the service is available over a limited geographical area.
Oftel said the legal framework for the commission's demand would be met, but refused to say whether it would force BT to offer commercial access to its exchanges by the end of the year. Oftel and BT planned to unbundle the loop from 1 July and claimed that security and problems of interference between services, still had to be overcome.
BT rivals Freeserve and Worldcom said they had no plans to take action against BT over the issue. The Telecommunications Managers' Association said it too did not expect earlier commercial roll-outs of ADSL.