UK internet service provider Zetnet Services today launched a broadband deal for its UK customers, becoming the latest ISP to enter the broadband fray.

Technical director Tim Cole said that despite his company's history as one of the oldest independent UK internet service providers, Zetnet has come late to the broadband market because it was unhappy with the connection quality experienced by end users.

"The service level that BT now provides is a lot more stable and we feel confident that the service we can offer is more than competitive and we've endeavoured to make it simple for the domestic broadband user," said Cole.

Despite the rocky start, Europe has seen a major growth in broadband takeup according to researchers at Strategy Analytics, which found that 7.5 percent of all European households now use to high-speed connections.

A record 6.3 million customers signed up to broadband in 2002, an increase of 50 percent on 2001, with 72 percent of these opting for an ADSL rather than cable connection. Cable operators actually saw a decline in adoption, from 26 to 22.6 percent. According to Strategy Analytics, cables success will depend upon "successful financial restructuring" and "increased investor confidence".

Zetnet's ADSL service is offering customers a free modem router that incorporates ethernet and USB, worth £80, when they subscribe for £129 plus £10 p&p. The deal runs to 31 March 2003.

Compatible with Mac OS, Linux and Windows, the router also includes a two-way phone splitter. The £129 package offers three months of internet access through Zetnet's basic ADSL deal, five email accounts and 50MB of web space. After the three months, the service costs £29.33 per month.