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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
WorldCom 'ditches' UK broadband plans
Graphic
WorldCom and Global Crossing are reported to have abandoned plans to introduce high speed internet access in the UK amid mounting criticism of Oftel, the telecoms watchdog.

Both telecom companies were expected to lead the drive to bring broadband internet access to homes and offices across the country, in competition with British Telecom (BT).

But they are thought to have lost patience with BT's apparent reluctance to open up local telephone exhanges for engineers to install broadband equipment.

The so-called 'unbundling' process is being overseen by Oftel, which has attempted to prevent BT exploiting its local monopoly.

Deadlock

WorldCom had chaired Oftel's broadband implementation working group, which led negotiations with BT over how rival operators could gain access to its local telephone network.

But it now appears to have quit the process in frustration, along with rival Global Crossing.

Neither company was on the list of 35 companies which have formally asked BT for access to local exchanges, it emerged on Thursday in a Financial Times article.

BT engineer
BT engineers already have access to exchanges
The companies' exit comes after Oftel admitted on Wednesday that it should have acted sooner to break the deadlock between BT and its rivals.

BT says it has rejected many of the requests for access to exchanges because of technical alterations that need to be made.

These are reported to include 17,200 sq metres of anti-static vinyl flooring, 2,500 smoke detectors and 1,700 kickproof security doors

Analysts believe BT has 'blacklisted' more than half of the 860 exhanges requested by other operators, claiming that preliminary survey work reveals them to be unsuitable.

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Background:
See also:

30 Aug 00 | Business
BT launches fast net connection
31 Mar 00 | Business
Broadband drives global mergers
28 Aug 00 | Business
Understanding broadband
13 Jul 00 | Business
Sprint, WorldCom cancel merger
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