BT chief defends broadband delivery

The managing director of British Telecom's main broadband company has slammed critics over broadband access.

The managing director of British Telecom's main broadband company has slammed critics over broadband access.

Andy Green, managing director of BT Openworld, attacked people who have criticised the performance of his company in supplying broadband access in the form of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL).

Green's comments came in an address to leading telecoms managers at this week's TMA conference in Brighton.

"It is very British to criticise BT in the way which we have seen," said Green. He went on to ask if people would prefer the German model - where Deutsche Telekom controls 94% of the circuits - or a centrally controlled model such as the one in South Korea, which has the best broadband access in the developed world.

Green claimed that BT should be applauded for delivering cheap narrowband access. He said BT now offered ADSL for up to 75% of UK homes, a figure disputed by many delegates.

Grant Neville, director for broadband systems at Nokia Networks, said broadband access is not just about making technical alterations to telephone exchanges. It is also about getting the sales structure right and promoting the technology.

Neville asked: "Why is it that in continental Europe, you see hoardings promoting ADSL and its benefits, but you see nothing in Britain?"

The Communications Management Association (CMA), which organised the conference, is concerned that the lack of broadband is hurting UK business.

CMA chairman John Wright highlighted the difficulties in getting ADSL. Many users he knew were told that BT was not marketing ADSL in their area until later this year, more than two years after it was first launched. Others found it impossible to speak to anyone at BT who could address technical queries about the technology.

Green admitted there had been early difficulties, but argued that BT was now delivering 5,000 connections a week. The company aims to increase this figure to 20,000 or 25,000 a week, he claimed.

While Green accepted that the broadband market could benefit from more promotion, he said many markets were about to take off. He cited the printing industry, which he said has adopted ADSL through word of mouth.

BT's ADSL access figure of 75% is based on the number of exchanges being modified for broadband and the number of homes covered by those exchanges.

Green admitted that, in some areas, not all homes could get broadband because of technical discrepancies between the home and the exchange. In reality, the access figure could be nearer to 60%.

To achieve greater broadband access in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Green said BT intends to roll out satellite services to businesses and homes.

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