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BT kills off ADSL trial

New service will be slower and more expensive

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BT is scrapping its current ADSL trial and replacing it with a poorer service that is more expensive. In an email, the telco giant said that that the BT Interactive trial would end on 7 November 1999. However, the pre-launch beta trial (BT is looking to roll-out ADSL nation-wide early next year) would be available to all current triallists if they wanted to continue with the service. According to the monster telco, the beta trial will be used to test a mass market ISP ADSL service from BT prior to its launch next spring. In doing so BT has increased the price to £49.99 a month (from £30) and bandwidth has been slashed from 2Mbps to just 512Kbps, providing the clearest indication yet as to what retail consumers can expect to pay for a broadband service. As a sweetener to those people who have persevered with the trial, BT has said that it will not charge the subscription for November and December. Even so, the decision has enraged a number of triallists who have balked at the price hike and cut in service. One, who asked not to be named said: "Oh well, looks like the trial is going to lose a lot of people." And he added that the service would not be available to Linux users. "A 'new piece of software' is required to 'enable Internet service'", he said. BT maintains that while the maximum potential speed has been reduced to 512Kbps, this should not significantly lengthen download speeds. It claims most limitations for downloading are "external to the BT Interactive network". "Whilst this is a reduction in access rate, it is still eight to 10 times faster than typical modem speeds, and offers customers an affordable ADSL service when it launches next year," BT claimed in its statement. A spokesman for BT said that despite the changes only three people have dropped out of the trial so far adding that most people still think it's a good deal. Wishing to clarify BT's decision he said: "The £30 a month for our ADSL trial service was a nominal figure to test whether people would pay. "The new tariff is a much more realistic reflection of what the cost of ADSL would be," he said. He added that other higher bandwidths would be available although these would cost more. However, he said most people using the reduced bandwidth would not even notice the difference to the quality of the service. By comparison, Net users in Canada can get ADSL access for as little as £15 a month. According to a reader from Halifax, Nova Scotia: "We have fierce competition between cable modem and ADSL service -- each a provided by a monopoly. "The rates for ADSL now range from $36.95 to $45 CDN (£15 to £18), depending on product packages. Installation is $25 (£10). From anecdotal evidence, this is pretty normal across Canada," he said. Once again it looks like customers in Britain are being asked to pay over-the-odds for services that are far cheaper elsewhere in the world. No one from BT was available for comment. ®

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