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BT's broadband barometer

How many users does your area need to justify high-speed internet access?

BT has announced the creation of a nationwide database to show demand for broadband across the UK.

The database, due to be launched on 1 July, will make available the 'trigger point' — the number of registrants needed — to justify upgrading a local exchange to ADSL. Users can register their interest in receiving broadband, allowing BT to monitor demand.

"There has never been a formal mechanism which has recorded the exact figures required across all areas," said David Orr, spokesman at BT. "This will act as a barometer, formalising the whole process and making customers aware of what is required in their and other areas."

But BT has admitted its 'trigger point' is between 200 and 500 registrants, up to 10 times higher than the figures produced by the B4B (Broadband4Britain) campaigners.

But B4B Campaign manager Andy Williams, did admit: "We broadly welcome any additional transparency from BT. A huge body of emails we get relates to the lack of information on exchange upgrade programmes."

But he added, "We are convinced that these figures are way too high. Our Flashpoint 50 figure illustrates an aggressive, but very achievable breakeven point, should BT have the appetite for it."

B4B also criticises BT's handling of its broadband campaign.

"There is no hint of BT actually doing something proactive to educate potential users on the benefits of broadband. BT Wholesale sees its role purely as a provider of DSL to other service providers," said Williams, "[but] if it leaves the marketing purely to them, cash poor as they mostly are, then demand will falter.

"All this adds a great dollop of spin, but little of real substance," he said.

To check the availability of broadband in your area and to access the database, when it's launched, click here.

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