BTs bundled product/service ADSL offerings

David Edmonds,
OFTEL,
50 Ludgate Hill,
London EC4M 7JJ

24 February 2001

BT offer their ADSL services on condition that only BT equipment may be used with it.

This is akin to the old Post Office telephone connection where you were only allowed to use
PO telephones with your PO line. And the selection of telephones was pretty restricted - if
you didn't like cream or green plastic bad luck! That was the dark ages of the telephone
marketplace, and was the worst possible deal in terms of quality, choice and value for
money for the customer.

BTs approach similarly gives poor quality, choice and value for money. The problems I had
when commencing with ADSL last November illustrate this:

I generally do not use the Windows operating system, but half of the BT's products required
Windows. (Recently support has begun for Mac, still not for any other platform.) I was
forced to choose between paying the multi-user rate of £100 per month for hardware that
didn't need Windows, or buy a new PC. As a single user, the multi-user deal did not give
any other benefit. So I spent many hundreds of pounds on a new PC which usually does
nothing other than forward message to my main PC. This arrangement also significantly
reduces the quality of connection from the user perspective.

Of course BT needs to ensure that any equipment used on their line will operate correctly
with their exchange. But there are international standards that ADSL modems are
measured against (ie ANSI T1.413 Issue2, G.dmt, and G.lite).

I believe that broadband services should be made available separately from user
equipment. This would provide a more open marketplace, and lead to the kind of choice
enjoyed by telephone service customers.

OFTEL's stated aim is 'for customers to get the best possible deal in terms of quality, choice
and value for money'. My case is one example of the current situation giving poor quality,
choice and value for money.

Do you agree that this aim would be better met by insisting on such an open marketplace?
If so, why has OFTEL not done this. If you do not agree, what is the reason why not?

Yours faithfully,

Owen Lydiard, Director, Have IT Now Limited