The process of allowing competing telecoms operators access to BT's local exchanges has begun. Oftel has named the first set of telecoms providers that will be given access to BT's local facilities, and has set out deadlines for high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) trials.
The UK networking industry is set to benefit from the roll-out of 'broadband' high-bandwidth Internet access which will drive demand for new products and services, say observers.
In September, 14 operators, including cable companies, Internet service providers and new entrants chosen by the industry, will begin installing their equipment in BT's local exchanges to deliver DSL services. When BT has received orders from the operators it must build facilities to house their equipment.
Trials will begin by January 2001 and commercial services are scheduled to be available from July 2001.
Until now, BT has owned all the equipment within local exchanges, giving it tight control over most of the UK's local phone networks. The exception is the cable operators.
The government has been pressing BT to speed up the 'unbundling' of the local loop, but it is thought unlikely to happen before July 2001.
However, a representative for Oftel said: "We would like to see the date come forward if possible. We are currently working to the original timetable.
If things continue the way they have, it may well be that it will be done earlier."
The trials will be conducted using exchanges at Battersea in London, Edinburgh, Leeds and Belfast. Exactly who will install the equipment has yet to be decided. The operators that will take part in the first trial were selected by industry body the Operators' Policy Forum.
The chosen operators are: Colt, Cable & Wireless Communications, Easynet, Eircom, Energis, First Telecom, Global Crossing, Kingston Communication, MCI WorldCom, NTL, Telewest, Telinco and Thus.
The prices the operators will pay for installing equipment in BT's exchanges will be announced later this month. Following the DSL trials, the participants will extend their services to include voice over IP.
Privilege escalation bug already being exploited in the wild
NASA's Voyager 2 probe set to reveal secrets of space beyond the heliosphere as it goes interstellar
The probe is now more than 18 billion kilometres from Earth, with equipment enabling it to reveal some of the secrets of interstellar space
Four glaciers located west of massive Totten glacier have lost almost three metres of ice in height since 2008
Ceres, located in the asteroid belt, has a carbonaceous-rich upper crust, SwRI study claims