The fracas erupted over comments made by BT Openworld boss, Andy Green, during a Reuters interview. He said the company was connecting 2,000 DSL customers a week. This compares to AOL and Freeserve's allocation of 100 installations per week.
Labelled a 'national disgrace' by AOL and Freeserve, BT is being investigated by UK telecom-industry regulator Oftel, who will, 'act quickly if BT is found to be breaking competition laws'.
Last year, Oftel submitted regulations for unbundling the local loop to speed-up the adoption and roll-out of broadband services.
Sasha Chisholm, AOL's head of corporate PR strategy, said: "Things are changing all the time. There are meetings in progress, we will be making an announcement. "
This row is bad news for BT, who – despite reporting a pre-tax profit of £760M for the quarter ending December 31, 2000 – has a net debt of £19.1 million. This is due to the acquisition of German mobile-comms provider, Viag Interkom AG and Irish telecoms company, Esat Telecom Group.