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BT promotes DIY DSL

It's the only way you'll get it. Not til next year though

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BT is planning to allow you, Mr Consumer, to install DSL Internet access from next year. Beats waiting for the monster telco to bother.

There is currently one trial going on that is "wires only", meaning that you are responsible for the modem and a BT engineer will install a service plate. What's a service plate? "It's a front plate that goes on your phone socket," a spokesman explained.

Why do we need an engineer to put a plate on the socket? Well, that's trial number two - soon to start - that will see a "microfilter" delivered to your home, which you put into the socket and enables phone and data traffic to be split.

The word "trial", especially coming from BT's mouth, may send a bolt a fear down your spine (ADSL was "trialled" for four years before the current sub-standard effort to make it available was started) but it reckons that they will be finished by the end of this year and you might get a DIY DSL pack in your Christmas stocking.

It's not as simple as that though. The DIY service will not work until there is a fully functioning DSL box at the other end of the line i.e. the exchange. BT's continual and intentional blocking of other operators who want to install their kit in its exchanges is a major reason why the rollout of high-speed Net access in the UK has been so slow.

So while the introduction of do-it-yourself DSL kits is to be applauded, it won't let you get it any faster. It will, however, make installation cheaper. BT won't give any figures yet but it has accepted that since its engineers won't be needed, consumers will pay less. It currently costs £150 for installation. [This DIY approach is nothing new by the way. It's been available in the States for months.]

The one area in which BT may regain its former reputation will come about six months after the first DIY kits should be on the streets. It hopes to be able to offer a fully online service, so in the same way that you can download an ISP's software and be up and running on its service within minutes, BT plans to let you do the same for DSL.

When that happens we will finally see the full vision of Broadband Britain. Which will be terrific. Just a shame that it'll four years late. ®

Btw, there's a little more information about this on ADSLguide.org.uk here.

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