UK dotcom needs DSL

The two-year wait for DSL could be disastrous for the UK dotcom

The two-year wait for DSL could be disastrous for the UK dotcom

It was only last summer that Oftel announced the unbundling of the local loop and in the same breath gave BT an effective two-year monopoly before granting access.

No-one seems to understand why we still have to wait - the two committees advising Oftel seem on track to complete their deliberations by June, which gives a 12-month window to open up access. Can it really take this long?

Why is timing such an issue? Simply put, the extent of the commercial and technical benefits of digital subscriber line technology will not be realised until full competition is introduced.

Despite the focus of the media, the issue is not simply the ability of DSL to provide low cost, high performance internet access for the consumer, it is what the newly empowered online UK population will want. Where will they buy products and services from?

The answer should be UK companies, and in particular SMEs, which is why we need affordable, high speed broadband access. DSL enables carriers to offer SMEs exactly this, giving UK business numerous benefits: improvements in telephone services, the ability to self-operate e-mail and Web services, and sufficient bandwidth to connect PCs in different offices together as one large Lan.

The danger of a 12-month delay is simple - e-commerce by its very nature is borderless, and as the UK population goes online they will adopt favourite suppliers who probably won't be British, for instance Amazon.com and CDNow.com.

The rapid evolution of the Internet is such that if British businesses are not able to keep up with their European or US counterparts, UK dotcoms will become defunct.

Charles McGregor is chief executive of Fibernet

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