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BT to trial 1Mbps ADSL

Pilots 256k service, expands range of DSL etc.

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BT is to trial a new home-based 1Mbps ADSL service in the autumn which, if successful, could be rolled-out as a full commercial service before the end of the year.

News of BT's decision to provide a 1Mbps service comes on the same day that Telewest said it plans to trial a 2Mbps service for its consumers ahead of a full launch later this year.

BT Wholesale also confirmed that it now has more than 750,000 ADSL-connected end users and - despite some doubts - is on target to hit one million broadband punters by the summer.

In a raft of announcements made today, BT Wholesale claims that it is listening to its customers (ie. ISPs) and is working to offer new services.

Many of today's announcements are merely teasers for trials and pilots for later in the year and in some cases full details, such as pricing and spec, have yet to be finalised. However, today's announcements give an idea of BT's progress on broadband.

For example, as well as trialling a 1Mbps service for the home, BT Wholesale is also to test an entry-level 256Kbps product in the autumn. However, there are indications that BT does not regard this as being a true "broadband" service and is unlikely to market it as such, even though this will be an ADSL product.
Prices and other details surrounding both the 256Kbps and 1Mbps services are expected to be announced in the summer.

BT is also planning to extend the reach of its ADSL service which it claims will mean that an extra 600,000 households in DSL-enabled areas should be able to hook up to broadband. The reason why they can't lies in the fact that BT's 512Kbps ADSL service is only effective up to a range of around 5.5km from the exchange. Beyond that, and the line can suffer a reduction in signal strength leading to a duff service.

However, the telco now reckons it can effectively extend the range to 6km and still maintain a decent line quality to provide a 512Kbps ADSL service. The predictions are that 97 per cent of those connected to ADSL-enabled exchanges will now be within reach when this new initiative finally goes live sometime in June.

On a similar note, BT is also mulling whether to introduce a "simple fix" that would mean people connected to their local exchange via optical fibre (which doesn't support ADSL) - rather than copper - should be able to get broadband. Once again, more details of this are expected to be published next month will a full service launch pencilled in for June.

Providing an update on its broadband demand registration scheme, BT reports that so far 300,000 people from non-DSL areas have registered their interest in ADSL. So far 35 exchanges have been upgraded as a direct result of the scheme with a further 206 in the process of being upgraded by BT.

By next Monday, BT expects to publish triggers for a further 102 exchanges where demand has been strong but which have so far not been given thresholds.

Finally, BT is also expanding trials of its SDSL service from the current 22 exchanges to 100, with a view to launching the service commercially in August this year. ®

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