Letter from Patricia Hewitt MP, Minister
for Small Business and E-Commerce, Department of Trade and Industry
to the Chairman of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 9 January 2001.
As I explained at the Trade and Industry Committee on 13 December,
I have been keeping track of the progress on local loop unbundling
(LLU) on a regular basis. I fully understand your desire to keep
abreast of developments in this area and have discussed with Oftel
the publication of a monthly report on their website.
As you acknowledge, there are still commercial
confidentiality issues to consider, one of these being the disclosure
of sites selected for unbundling under the Bow Wave process. While
Oftel would not be able to publish this type of information at
present, there are a number of facts and figures relating to LLU
that would assist your Committee and the public in general. Oftel
intends to begin publishing a document, that will be updated monthly,
on their website starting in February 2001. I will ensure that
a copy is sent directly to you.
I thought I might take the opportunity to bring
you up to date with recent developments on local loop unbundling.
Trials of services by operators over unbundled loops have now
begun in Battersea and Belfast.
Last month, operators were able to place firm
orders for co-location at the first 25 sites. Operators did not
put in as many orders for co-location as had been anticipated.
This was due to a number of reasons, not least changes to operators'
own business plans. However, in order to ensure that any teething
problems with the process were addressed, Oftel called a meeting
of operators and BT.
A number of measures were agreed at the meeting.
BT and the operators agreed to bring forward access to the most
popular exchanges and BT will now concentrate their resources
on carrying out detailed surveys and cost estimates at these exchanges.
It is hoped that operators will put in orders so that building
work can begin before Easter. Oftel is also looking at the cost
estimates BT have put forward for co-location work. Work is in
hand to ensure that co-location facilities accurately meet the
needs of operators who are committed to the unbundling process.
These steps should help to streamline the process.
2 February 2001