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UK consumers can get broadband access for under £20 per month for the first time.

In the last week, ET Global Solutions launched a rock-bottom residential USB package for £18.95 (including VAT) and fairADSL began offering an ADSL package costing £18.99 per month.

There's an activation fee of around £60 for both services, and then (in common with other ISPs) consumers will have to fork out for ADSL modems and a micro-filter. Both packages are (naturally enough) self-install.

Contention ratios of 50:1 are offered by both services.

With BT's wholesale ADSL price of £15 there seems precious little margin for these providers to turn a profit, as sums calculated by ADSLguide.org highlights.

Despite this, fairADSL is confident its "no frills" service is viable despite its low price.

fairADSL say its offer carries no restrictions on downloading MP3 or video files. The company promises that there are "no hidden extras" to the service.

Bernadette Ebene, fairADSL marketing director, said: "Our offer is price driven, but in no way cuts corners."

"We are simply an independent provider delivering our products through, safe, secure and reliable BT channels."

Consumers tempted by the deals should recognise that both services come without added Web space and with limited support - fairADSL, for example, offers only email support. However it plans to introduce some provision for telephone support within the next two weeks.

Patrick O'Neil, a spokesman for fairADSL, told us it was trying to make ADSL more available to consumers by reducing the price between standard dial-up packages and broadband to below £5. However he admitted fairADSL's offering might not suit everyone, particularly those who valued high levels of support.

"We're offering a no-frills package. For someone who likes to have their hand held through all the stages of setting up ADSL, it's probably not the best option," he said. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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