The UK telecoms industry has failed to meet the first target set for the number of unbundled local loop broadband lines available for users.
The modest target of 50,000 unbundled lines by this month was set by the independent Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator (OTA), which was created last year by regulator Ofcom to encourage the local loop unbundling (LLU) process.
Figures from the OTA show only 31,000 lines had been unbundled by 31 January, up from 12,000 in May 2004.
LLU means telecoms companies installing their own lines from an exchange to a user’s office or home, instead of re-selling the lines owned by another company - usually BT.
The advantage of LLU is that providers can set their own quality of service levels for the customer, choose what data access speeds are available, and support innovative services such as voice over broadband more easily.
The OTA said, "LLU operators continue to experience operational problems and variable delivery performance is inhibiting operators' marketing plans."
Last year, BT cut the charges it imposes on rivals to enter its exchanges to install unbundled lines, and these reductions recently came into affect. Last week BT said it would cut these charges further, to further stimulate LLU.
By last summer only 0.03% of broadband lines were unbundled in the UK. This compared with 8% in France.
The full OTA update is available at www.offta.org.uk