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BT to launch cheaper ‘no frills’ ADSL service

UPDATE: Improves availability of broadband

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BT Retail is to provide a cheaper "no frills" alternative for high-speed Internet access from the summer, the monster telco announced today.

The service is currently on trial and simply provides direct access to the Net without any provision of content or ISP services.

Although exact details of the service have yet to be announced it is only likely to be a "few pounds" cheaper than BT's existing retail services.

BT says the introduction of this stripped-down access-only service will help it achieve as many as five million broadband connections in the UK by 2006.

Speaking at a press conference today BT chief exec, Ben Verwaayen, said: "This is a unique product. What the direct product does is gives you an access product direct to the internet. It's like you get an internet dial-tone."

However, one industry source has already expressed concern that the service could pose a significant threat to ISPs.

Publishing a strategic review today, BT reiterated its claim that broadband is "at the heart of BT" strategy for the future.

Elsewhere, BT announced that it is upgrading a 100 more exchanges in the UK to deliver broadband services with a further 500 more currently under review to be upgraded.

BT reckons that the 100 extra exchanges means that ADSL services will be available to more than two thirds of the UK population - some 16 million households - by the end of May.

Paul Reynolds, chief exec of BT Wholesale, said: "The work in these 100 exchanges is our response to customer demand. People have told us, in sufficient numbers, that they want broadband services.

"We are also adding extra capacity in the current 1,010 ADSL enabled exchanges to meet the significant increase in demand that resulted from the price reductions made by service providers as they passed on our wholesale cuts," he said.

Today's announcement follows price cuts in the wholesale price of ADSL which came into effect at the beginning of April.

Since then demand for broadband has increased with wholesale orders currently running at more than 10,000 a week, BT says. ®

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