BT has told ISDN customers that want an upgrade to asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) that they cannot have the service until early next year, while customers with no ISDN connection are already being signed up.
The telco said the problem, which has infuriated its Home Highway customers, is due to technical and administrative issues and that although a method for smoothly transferring ISDN customers to ADSL is still being developed, it will not be ready until early 2001.
Chris Simmons, head of product marketing at BT Open World, said: "We are currently in the middle of a trial and will make an announcement when the upgrade is available."
But the reaction from furious customers was that the situation was not acceptable. One user said: "BT says the reason I have been delayed is that I am a Home Highway customer and must go to the back of the queue. Analogue users are being given preference even though I pre-ordered.
"I asked BT to remove Home Highway and to return me to an analog line so I could then apply afresh for my ASDL line, but I was told it cannot be done. I wonder what will happen when I get BT Open World installed. Will I have to rejoin the queue when the next technology arrives?"
When contacted by vnunet.com, a BT representative said that analog customers were not receiving priority and apologised that the customer had been told to "go to the back of the queue".
"It sounds like it should be a simple process, but it isn't," said the representative. "In the UK, we cannot run ADSL over ISDN lines so it's not just a case of disabling the ISDN line to install an ADSL connection. All the billing, order-handling and order-managing services have to be changed at the same time.
"We are working with our suppliers on a new process to enable this transition and we are disappointed that it was not ready by September. But it is still in trial and just not ready yet. It will be ready early next year."
Separately, on the assumption that DSL means more companies will be using virtual private networks, ESoft's InstaGate EX was launched in Europe last week.
The company believes it is on to a winner in the small to medium sized enterprise market. John Williamson, managing director for Europe, Middle East & Africa at eSoft, said: "This is a firewall with a future. More DSL means more security will be needed."
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