UK telecoms-industry regulator Oftel has called a high-level summit, as companies continue to ditch plans to offer broadband Internet access.

Oftel summoned industry officials for a meeting today (Thursday) following Bulldog Communications' announcement on Tuesday that its roll-out of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) equipment is being stalled by high costs. The bad new was compounded when Dutch telecoms company Versatel also revealed it had scrapped plans to offer DSL services in the UK, opting to focus on Germany and the Benelux countries.

Earlier in the month, RSL Communications pulled out, blaming Oftel and the incumbent British Telecom for dragging their feet.

Oftel recently insisted British Telecom (BT) open up 25 exchanges, following pressure from competitors who wanted to install DSL equipment. This so-called local-loop unbundling was designed to introduce competition, linking BT's local exchanges to homes and businesses.

"There is a special meeting to discuss the outcome of the first round of orders for co-location of equipment at the first 25 sites," an Oftel spokesman told BBC Online. "The number of firm orders placed was less than that originally bid."

The take-up has largely been poor because many of the exchanges are located rurally, meaning companies have fewer customers to sell to. This is something the UK government is already legislating against..

The rejection by DSL operators of rural exchanges means the roll-out of broadband is slow and patchy. This creates a technology gap between cities and the countryside.

The Countryside Agency, a UK government agency set-up to promote rural concerns, has asked Oftel to widen the remits of the Universal Service Obligation to include broadband services.