BT has hit back at criticism that the UK is lagging behind in broadband provision compared with the rest of Europe.
Despite thousands of users registering an interest in Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), only a minority are set to receive high-speed internet access before Christmas.
BT established a broadband registration scheme in July, and set 'trigger levels' of up to 700 users per area before it would make the ADSL investment.
"We want to make sure we are investing in the right area with the highest demand," said Francis King at BT Wholesale, adding that the firm works closely with its channel partners to drive demand.
BT has 5,000 exchanges in the UK, but only around 1,000 of them are ADSL-enabled. Just five more look likely to get broadband before Christmas.
King added that in certain areas the number of users made it "uneconomical" to provide broadband by traditional means. BT, along with its partners, is working on cheaper ways to get around the problem, such as broadband via satellite links.
"BT is doing more than any other company [to encourage] broadband and we are well on target for one million users by 2003," claimed King.
However, Clive Longbottom, service director at Quocirca, said the broadband outlook is bleak.
"Resellers cannot go out with all guns blazing as BT will let them down. They cannot make promises to customers as it is at the behest of BT as to when or if exchanges come on line. Being the best in broadband in Europe by 2005 is laughable. The UK will struggle to get off the bottom of the league," he said.
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