So many companies want access to BT exchanges that the roll of a dice will be the decider – the company which rolls the highest number being the first to install equipment in its exchanges.
Oftel had a showdown with BT a few weeks ago, forcing it to open up to competitors its local loop, the last stretch of cable between a telephone exchange and customer’s office. But demand has been astonishing, and BT cannot cope.
By 12 September, 30 companies had applied for space in the 1,500 local exchanges that BT is opening up. Kingston Communications has applied for space in 1,000 of these exchanges.
In desperation, BT turned to Electoral Reform Services, which suggested the single transferable voting (STV) system as a means of resolving the difficulties. With the STV system, voters are asked to rank the 360 exchanges in order of preference. The most popular will be opened up first. Votes not needed are transferred to the voter’s second choice.
If there is a tie, allocation will be decided by rolling dice on 6 October.
Oftel says that telecoms companies should have access to the BT network by the end of this year so that they can offer their own speedy net-surfing services. The results of the vote will be known on 18 September.