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OTA reports fall in unbundled broadband lines
It is the first time in several years that the number of unbundled connections has dropped month on month.The number of unbundled broadband lines in the UK dropped between April and May, according to the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA).
At the end of May, total volumes stood at 7.56 million, representing a decline of 60,000 over the month.
Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Sky and TalkTalk use these connections to offer broadband to consumers via BT's copper network.
Rod Smith, the OTA's executive chairman, pointed out that while the fall in the number of active lines is relatively small, it is the first monthly decrease recorded in several years.
Data recorded by the organisation over the past three months seems to indicate that a plateau in unbundled broadband lines has been reached, he claimed.
Totals rose by just 30,000 between February and April, the OTA's figures reveal, before falling in May.
Mr Smith stopped short of offering a possible explanation for the result, but insisted the body will keep a close eye on any future developments.
"There are several factors that have an influence on these numbers and we will continue to monitor progress," he remarked.
Last August, the number of unbundled connections surpassed seven million for the first time - a result that telecoms industry watchdog Ofcom hailed as a "significant milestone" for competition in the sector.
A legally-binding agreement between Ofcom and BT signed in September 2005 resulted in a surge in unbundling.
At the time of the undertaking, there were just 123,000 of these lines across the UK, but the contract - requiring BT to establish its Openreach division and allow rivals ISPs to use its infrastructure - saw that number take off over the following months.
This move has played a part in the rapid growth of broadband in recent years.
Back in September 2005, just over a third of homes and small businesses had access to the technology, compared to more than seven in ten properties today.