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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Rural residents demand broadband
Keyboard
Thousands have registered interest in ADSL
A broadband registration scheme has proved a hit with the people in the countryside.

BT Wholesale - the company that decides which telephone exchanges in the UK will benefit from broadband via the phone lines - says that nearly 50,000 people have registered interest in getting the ADSL technology.

Two-thirds of the UK is already covered by ADSL but the remaining third, mostly residents in small towns and rural areas, are excluded from the high-speed internet revolution.

Pressure from lobby groups has been mounting on BT and the government to make sure businesses and residents in these areas have access to some form of broadband.

Hundreds needed

The registration scheme allows users to register interest in ADSL via an internet service provider of their choice.

Most popular exchanges in UK
Westhoughton: 191 registrations
Kesgrave: 169 registrations
Pill: 155 registrations
Irby: 147 registrations
Alton: 143 registrations
This information is passed on to BT Wholesale. The local exchange is ADSL-enabled when an area reaches the point at which BT deems it economically viable provide the technology.

However there has been some dispute about how many people are needed to make an ADSL-enabled exchange pay for itself.

Figures published by BT suggest that most places need between 200 and 400 interested users before they will consider putting the equipment in relevant exchanges.

Lobby group Broadband4Britain, alongside analyst firm Ovum and other experts, argues that only 50 people are needed to make services viable.

Cheaper option

BT has said that Broadband4Britain does not have access to the true cost of rolling out ADSL.

"The figures it has come up with are not based on costs in the UK," said a spokesman for BT Wholesale.

A trial is about to take off that will provide broadband for as little as 16 users for a fraction of the normal cost of enabling an exchange.

But BT said it is not viable around the whole country.

"It is using different equipment that is only at the trial stage and also provides broadband via a single internet service provider which means there is less traffic and therefore can be carried over the existing network," said the spokesman.

Residents in Pembury, Kent are the closest to getting ADSL in their area. Just over 100 residents have registered interest, around half those needed to get the exchange enabled.


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