BT wants to cut its broadband charges

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The Independent Online

Take up of high-speed internet access continues to grow, according to figures released by BT Group yesterday, but comments by Sir Christopher Bland, BT's chairman, revealed that the company's internal problems over broadband investment continue to fester.

Take up of high-speed internet access continues to grow, according to figures released by BT Group yesterday, but comments by Sir Christopher Bland, BT's chairman, revealed that the company's internal problems over broadband investment continue to fester.

The telecoms group said the third quarter had been its best on record with 600,000 new broadband connections being made. These took BT Wholesale's user base to 3.3 million. This figure includes the internet customers of other service providers which piggyback on BT Wholesale's network to access their own customers.

BT said its own internet services, run by BT Retail, saw their share of net additions rise from 29 per cent to 30 per cent, equal to 1.29 million customers. But Sir Christopher warned Ofcom that pricing of broadband services threatened the company's long-term investment plans in new network infrastructure.

Speaking at a private lunch on Wednesday, Sir Christopher said Ofcom should allow it to lower the costs of its main wholesale broadband product to bring it in line with lower costs for so-called "local loop unbundling" (LLU), an alternative method of connecting homes to broadband services.

BT Retail uses the more expensive wholesale product, limiting its ability to compete with the growing number of rivals investing in LLU. This has prompted Pierre Danon, the chief executive of BT Retail, to demand money from the BT board to allow him to invest in LLU as well.

Reports of a blazing row between M. Danon and Ben Verwaayen, the BT chief executive, over the issue, have been dismissed by BT. M. Danon did not return calls yesterday from Mauritius, where he is on holiday.

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