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EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Broadband scheme causes confusion
Screen grab of BT's availability checker
The availability checker shows users how interest is growing
BT's broadband registration scheme has caused confusion among consumers and providers in Britain.

The telco launched the scheme for users to register interest in broadband in areas that have not yet got the technology, with the promise of upgrading the local telephone exchange if enough people wanted high-speed net access.

It follows concerns about a digital divide opening between urban areas that have ADSL - broadband over the telephone line - and remoter places that do not.

However, users accessing the site this week have found the process frustrating and pointless.

Who do I contact?

Although they can see how many users have shown interest via on-screen barometers, the process is largely cosmetic as BT is not allowed to take their registration details any further.

This is down to Oftel regulations preventing BT collecting data in case it unfairly favours its own internet service provider (ISP).

Click here to tell us if you have had trouble showing your interest in broadband

Instead users are given a list of ISPs that they can contact to further their application. The ISPs are then responsible for officially registering those users with BT.

BT claims to have contacted the 200-odd ISPs involved, but according to some customers, many are not aware that they have a role to play in the scheme.

Knee-jerk reaction

"We have sent details to ISPs via regular electronic briefings and on our website and I can only apologise if the details haven't got through," said a spokeswoman for BT Wholesale.


When we have enough committed pledges, we will make the strongest representation possible to BT to upgrade telephone exchanges

Spokesman, Broadband4Britain campaign
Pressure group Broadband4Britain has already launched its own attempt to map pent-up demand for broadband across the UK with 150 "local heroes" campaigning in each region via leaflet drops and local newspapers.

It applauded BT's attempt to address the problems faced by the 30% of the population that has been bypassed by broadband, but it is concerned that there is no substance behind the scheme.

"It is an ill-thought out, knee-jerk reaction to our serious campaign," said a spokesman for Broadband4Britain.

"It would be better if they had decided to work with us as their scheme seems to be a copycat version of ours."

"When we have enough committed pledges we will make the strongest representation possible to BT to upgrade telephone exchanges," he said.

Roundabout route

BT, however, believes its scheme is working successfully.

"We have already got a lot of service providers sending registrations to us and we have uploaded this into the barometers. Some are already getting full," said a spokeswoman for BT Wholesale.

Oftel acknowledged that the current system for registering demand is a "roundabout route" but it has no plans to relax the rules.

So would it not be simpler for consumers if the regulator itself took over responsibility for co-ordinating demand for broadband?

"No, we are just the regulator and don't have the systems in place to collect that kind of information," said a spokeswoman for Oftel.

Have your say

Click here to return

Have you had trouble registering for broadband in rural areas? Who should handle the scheme? What can be done to wire up the countryside?

I stay in a large village, (population about 10,000), 14 miles from Glasgow in a highly populated area and BT have no intention of wiring my area although the exchange is only 200 yards from my house. NTL/Telewest have passed a fibre through the village but also have no plans to distribute it in the area. BT should be forced into enabling all exchanges and then people will have equal opportunity to get connected
Dave, Scotland

This new BT registration scheme is a shambles. The site is confusing and poorly thought out, contains many broken links and seems to be designed to put people off registering altogether. I work in the IT industry and I can only imagine how awful this experience must be for people less technically-minded.
Tim, UK

I live in Woking, and checked to see if I was in a region served by BT's ADSL. Entering my phone number told me that it wasn't but that I should register my interest. Registering my interest told me that it wasn't available. Then it told me "contact an ISP to see if it's available". To add insult to injury, entering my postcode told me I was in a region 'on the border between our 2MB and 128k services' and should call to arrange a test date.
Mark Hood, UK

I applied for ADSL a couple of years ago. The system said it was available in my area - great! When it came down to it, I couldn't get it because I was too far away from the nearest node.I only found out that the line test had failed the day before the promised installation date, and only then because I phoned up to find out why I had heard nothing more. I'm now on NTL cable.
Jason Teagle, England

This is a nonsense. I know I can't get broadband in the rural area I'm living in. I thought the whole point of this scheme was to register interest and influence the provision of broadband services. We must look upon provision of broadband similar to the National Grid and as with all national infrastructure projects which are in our national interest, must be driven by central government committment.
Alan Taylor, UK

Can someone publish a definitive list of ISPs that are taking pre-registrations for ADSL that will be counted by BT under their new scheme? This may force other ISPs who are not ready to participate in the scheme to pull their finger out and get the whole thing moving. It's a shambles as things stand currently.
Jamie Warren, UK

I personally know that 10 people have registered an interest to BT for ADSL in our village. But BT still show that the number of registrations is zero. Perhaps they should simplify the registration process and allow people to register online.
Paul, UK

I live three miles from a northern town, but NTL/Telewest do not cover this area, only BT. I have registered my interest for broadband, I was told to call back at the beginning of July as they were looking at upgrading their switches, but still they say there is not enough interest! Tell us BT how many people do you need to get it done?
Derek, UK

I have pre-registered with BT over the phone to an operator for BT Broadband for exchange WNIB (Ironbridge) and still the barometer shows zero.
David Harris, UK

I live in a village roughly eight miles from Cardiff, eight miles from Newport two of the largest cities in Wales. Yet when I enquired into the possibility of having ADSL I was told that it wasn't planned for any time in the next two years!
Owen Payne, Wales

I live four miles from Glasgow city centre. I have previously pre-registered my interest twice in BT's ADSL service. BT's Availability Checker has been suggesting that my local exchange was possibly going to be upgraded following a review to be published in June. It's now July - and BT have to all intents and purposes poured cold water on any likelihood of my getting broadband from them. It seems they will only invest if there is sufficient proven interest, yet the most likely way of getting interest is to get customers using it and sell on a word-of-mouth basis.
David, Scotland

I live in a large village five miles from Coventry and six miles from Birmingham (not exactly wilderness, but not in a city centre) and 3.7km from the local exchange (in ADSL range). I've been waiting for the registration scheme for a long time, as neither the Coventry or Birmingham cable operators reach the village, and even Tele2 can't connect me. On going to the BT site, I get the message "The pre-registration database shows that no trigger level has been calculated for your exchange" - ie, they're never going to upgrade this exchange. As most villages near large cities are now mainly ABC1 commuter suburbs, surely the economics make sense for BT (or anyone) to upgrade exchanges in these areas? It's back to the tin can & sting method of connection, I'm afraid.
Pete D, UK

I live less than 50 miles from London and a good proportion of people in the district commute daily, but when I applied for ADSL, the BT reply was that there was "not sufficient demand" in the area. How they knew this, is difficult to understand. I only heard of this registration of interest today. If we really want to reduce the strains on transport, road and rail, then less commuting would make a big difference.
Rob, England

I live in Padiham Lancashire, and have had access to the internet for many years from the very early days, I find it disappointing that in my area I have to wait for interest to be shown in a broadband service before it is activated, I would have been one of the first people to sign up if it had been available to all.
Paul, UK

I too have registered my interest in ADSL and yet the number of registrations shown on my exchange is zero. My ISP? BTinternet
Gary, UK

As mentioned by others, the BT site does not appear to update when I know people are registering their interest on the barometer. We are running a campaign in our village to get our exchange upgraded, but BT says they do not expect to do ours in the foreseeable future. Yet when speaking to BT Business services, they told us it was imminent. They cannot seem to get the story right internally, let alone to the customers.
Dave Francis, UK

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