Wanadoo timetables new Net services

Wanadoo’s MD of strategy products and services, Marc Overton, outlined his company’s roll out of new Internet services as its LLU drive gets underway.

Currently the company plans to have 105,000 lines unbundled from 154 exchanges by the end of the year, he said. This means that those customers will be receiving Wanadoo’s 8Mbps services.

Overton said that the unbundling will be focussed in key urban areas at first. He said Wanadoo is not interested in getting 8Mbps services ‘to Welsh hill farmers … The numbers just don’t stack up.’

However, he added that even BT’s plans for offering ADSL2+ services are unlikely to be available to more than 30 per cent of the population.

Those in range of an unbundled ADSL2+ exchange are headed for figures beyond 8Mbps though. Overton said he expects Wanadoo to roll out 24Mbps services by the end of next year.

He believes this is vital for offering the kind of services where the quality of throughput is paramount.

The company has already started out on the VoIP road, with its Wireless & Talk service. While slow browsing can be frustrating, it’s a phenomena surfers generally accept happens from time to time. But Wanadoo plans on convincing customers to make its Internet phone service their primary phone line. Phone calls being dropped or losing quality are unacceptable where this is the main line. Hence Wanadoo’s Livebox wireless router is equipped with quality of service controls to ensure VoIP calls are dedicated the resources needed to ensure reliability.

Overton says that one of the biggest barriers to VoIP services becoming the primary phone line is BT’s unwillingness to allow number portability, so that regular phone numbers – rather than 0845-based ones – can be used.

However, he expects steps on this to be taken by the middle of next year, at which time Wanadoo’s marketing will get into gear around its Internet phone service. Indeed, this will undoubtedly tie in with the company’s rebranding as Orange.

The company also has plans to offer video services over the Internet, with trials taking place from the middle of next year. TV is already on offer through Wanadoo in France, where poor cable availability and tough regulations on bolting on satellite dishes has meant it has proved popular in Paris.

The service will arrive in the form of a set top box that communicates with the Livebox. Overton said it has yet to be decided whether PVR capability will be included. Users will be able to access an electronic programming guide to see what’s one. He said Wanadoo itself is also likely to be providing a content channel.

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