British Telecom stays Mum on ADSL revolution

British Telecommunications PLC has denied rumors that it aims to convert 80 percent of all U.K. households to ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) in the next two years, saying that Oftel forbids it to broadcast over its own network. It is, however, carrying out tests with the technology and has licensed several manufacturers to produce the necessary hardware. Oftel also says that BT's license is up for review in 1998 and that 'things may change.'

British Telecommunications PLC has denied rumors that it aims to convert 80 percent of all U.K. households to ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) in the next two years, saying that Oftel forbids it to broadcast over its own network.

It is, however, carrying out tests with the technology and has licensed several manufacturers to produce the necessary hardware. Oftel also says that BT's license is up for review in 1998 and that "things may change."

ADSL is a high-speed digital pipeline that allows download speeds of up to 9M bits per second, consisting of a pair of modems on either end of an ordinary copper line. The technology, ideally suited for video on demand and high-speed data transfer, such as over the Internet, was on display at BT's Innovation 97 exhibition.

Ian Keene, a senior analyst at Dataquest, says that although he can't rule out the possibility of widely implemented ADSL, "I certainly don't see it happening overnight. There's big talk, but not big numbers." Local trials are likely, however, he says, and BT is currently modifying its street boxes so they can carry the technology.

British Telecom is a major shareholder in New Zealand's Clear Communications.

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