UK telecoms providers slammed

UK companies have delivered a scathing verdict on the performance of telecoms providers and claimed the service they receive is getting worse.

The annual survey by the Communications Management Association also highlightedserious concerns over the level of competition in the sector and the slow roll-out of broadband internet access.

The CMA – which represents senior managers responsible for telecoms in the private and public sector – spoke to more than 550 of its members in order to produce the survey, which is regarded as highly authoritative within the industry.

Significant decline

They reported a significant decline in the quality of service from most of the main providers of fixed line telecoms services over the last year. Colt, Energis and Telewest were rated as the best performers, but even these merited only moderate scores.

In the mobile market, Orange was rated best for service and improved its rating among large business users. The other three big mobile networks all slipped back.All providers of online services, including BT, were seen as offering poorer service to business customers than a year ago.

A negative view of Oftel, the government’s telecoms watchdog, emerged from the CMA’s ranks. Oftel was seen as having delivered effective competition among telecoms providers only in the major conurbations, with little progress over the last year.

Availability of broadband is also shooting up the list of communications managers’ concerns. More than 70% are now worried that a lack of broadband services in their local loop is inhibiting development of their business, a sharp increase on last year.

Unanimous agreement

There was almost unanimous agreement that BT should be forced to speed up the roll-out of ADSL-based broadband connections. The urgency of the issue was underlined when more than half the communications managers said they would need a capacity of at least 128 kilobytes per second within a year to meet their company’s requirements.

CMA chairman John Wright said broadband remained a ‘pipe dream’ for many UK business telecoms users, who he claimed were ‘poorly served’ by theindustry, its regulator and the government.

‘They have failed to deliver the competitive environment and broadband infrastructure that businesses regard as vital to their future well being,’ said Wright.