Oftel communications boss David Edmonds has branded himself an "Internet villain", following the latest installment in the UK broadband-provision saga.

"I'm one of three candidates for the Internet Villain of the Year, along with British Telecom chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield and Home Secretary Jack Straw, though I think Sir Peter is on track to win," said Edmonds.

UK telecoms-industry regulator Oftel this week called an "emergency meeting" to probe why plans to increase the availability of broadband Internet access were failing.

After the meeting, BT announced that it will begin construction of co-location telephone-exchange facilities before April 15, as opposed to July. But Oftel conceded that the technical demands of installing and testing a high-speed network mean most new services will not roll out to customers until 2002.