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BT announces broadband strategy

More high-speed internet promises from telco

BT Wholesale yesterday announced plans to trial a 1Mbps (megabit per second) consumer ADSL service this autumn.

The announcement was part of BT's presentation to ISPs at its broadband customer forum in London, where it announced an array of pilots and trial schemes.

Its premium 1Mbps service will be joined by a slower 256Kbps (kilobits per second) entry-level product, prices and other details of which will be announced this summer. Meanwhile ISP Telewest yesterday revealed its plans to launch a 2Mbps consumer service later this year.

As well as increasing the range of consumer packages, BT announced plans to extend the geographical coverage of its ADSL services to cater for an extra 600,000 households.

Its current ADSL services only have a reach of 5.5km, after which signal reduction occurs. But BT is convinced it can extend this to 6km while still providing a good 512Kbps. This will mean that 97 percent of households currently connected to ADSL-enabled exchanges will be within reach. The proposed launch will be this June.

BT is also considering a 'simple fix' solution, which would use copper cables so that people who are connected to their local exchanges via optical fibre, which does not support ADSL, could get broadband. Further details will be published in April.

The company took time to give itself a pat on the back for its broadband registration scheme, which has attracted interest from 300,000 people so far. The latest trigger figures, due for release on 31 March, will show a further 102 exchanges (on top of the current 35) have been upgraded.

Finally, BT announced an extension to its current SDSL (symmetric digital subscriber line) trials, bringing the number of test exchanges from 22 to 100 by May.

BT now has around 750,000 broadband subscribers bringing it on target for its deadline of one million by this summer.


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