BT has revealed new levels of customer demand necessary to provide ADSL services for a further 88 of its local telephone exchanges.
A 'trigger' level of 200 customer registrations has been set for 53 of the 88 exchanges. The remaining 35 exchanges have trigger levels of 650, 700 and 750 end-users.
The telecoms giant has previously been criticised by MPs, internet service providers (ISPs) and government watchdogs for the high levels of demand necessary to provide ADSL, particularly in rural areas.
BT itself recently admitted that the level of demand it insists on for extending ADSL roll-out to rural areas is higher than necessary to cope with "drop outs".
Campaigners have claimed that just 50 subscribers can make rural exchanges viable, and executives at other operators insist that their own business models are closer to these lower figures than BT's thresholds.
BT claims that the higher levels of customer demand for the 35 exchanges reflected the higher costs of providing broadband network capacity to link them to its core network.
But a BT spokesman told vnunet.com that these exchanges were not necessarily in rural areas: "There is quite a high correlation [between the higher demand and rural areas], but it is not always the case. There are two factors," he said.
"If we have to build any more buildings at the exchange to house things like air conditioning then this is a factor. And the other factor is the availability of the link between that exchange and our network."
BT said it is continuing its review of costs of providing ADSL from individual exchanges and that today's announcement means trigger levels have now been set for 426 of them.
The review of a further 474 exchanges is continuing, with results due to be announced in phases by the end of September.
BT Wholesale director of broadband, Bruce Stanford, said: "Our review of exchanges has identified lower-than-average costs to link 53 of these exchanges back to our core network, which considerably reduces the cost of providing ADSL service to these areas.
"While the review of costs had led to higher trigger levels being set for 35 exchanges, this reflects the true economics of providing ADSL services in these areas.
"Our commitment to widening the availability of broadband services though alternative technologies and adopting different business models remains as strong as ever, and we will continue to explore innovative ways of reducing the costs of broadband provision," Stanford said.
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