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Hull-based Kingston Communications has launched what is believed to be Europe's first commercial "fast Internet" service using ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology. The service -- Kingston Ultra -- is expected to deliver Internet access at speeds of up to two million bits per second over standard copper telephone lines to its 185,000 customers in Kingston-Upon-Hull. The ADSL technology will begin to be rolled-out in March next year after the company recently completed a £4 million investment programme -- including the installation of ATM switching -- to enable the network to support ADSL services. As well as providing fast Net access, the company also plans to deliver digital broadcast television over ADSL lines aimed at home users. The move follows an extensive trial of ADSL-based services to 250 homes in the Hull area. Kingston will take advantage of IP multicasting, ATM switching, MPEG video and ADSL to enable home access to digital television and interactive services over a common, multi-application high speed network, the company said. A new business -- Kingston Vision -- has been formed to manage the entertainment-based service, creating up to 25 new jobs. The company also confirmed that it was in negotiations with set-top box suppliers, and programme content and service providers are nearing completion. "We are committed to ADSL technology as a means of delivering these services to our customers, creating new growth opportunities," said Kingston Communications Chief Executive Steve Maine. "Our trial has shown it is both reliable and fully capable of delivering a high quality service," he said. According to a spokesman at the company, there are some 710 million copper phone lines in the world and the thought of digging them up and replacing them with fibre optics simply isn't worth considering. "ADSL helps solve that problem and bridges that gap in the local loop," he said. BT has been running similar ASDL trials for several years but as yet has been reluctant to press ahead with it. But the US does appear to be embracing ADSL technology more and more, and a number of countries in Europe, including Germany and Belgium, have also announced that they are to run extensive trials. ®

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