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BT is gearing up for the second phase of its broadband strategy after declaring that the "coverage issue is now behind us".

With 85 per cent of the UK now hooked up to a DSL-enabled exchange with the promise that all of the UK will have access to high speed Net services sometime next year, BT is looking ahead to how it can reach its target of five million DSL connections by 2006.

It admits that so far, it's the early adopters - the "low hanging fruit" - who make up the UK's broadband population. The harder task will be to convince a more sceptical audience that they need broadband.

Today, it outlined four new areas which it believes will provide a "revolutionary next step [for broadband] in the UK". Specific details, such as pricing, have yet to be released but the telco was keen to show off its new ideas.

Flexible bandwidth

In a bid to give increased bandwidth to punters when they need it, BT is to trial a flexible bandwidth service that enables users to boost temporarily the speed of their broadband up to 2 megabits per second. This means the telco's 512k punters will have the option to access premium content such as DVD-quality streamed videos or online gaming. Technical trials have already taken place. Consumer trials are due to start next month.

BT Communicator

This is BT's take on "converged multimedia communication", enabling punters to make phone or video calls over a broadband connection. To be made available as a free download, the software combines voice services with Yahoo!'s Instant Messaging platform. A trial of BT Communicator starts in May.

BT Rich Media

Keen to see an increase broadband content, BT Rich Media is designed to make it easier to publish content online. To be launched on 6 April, BT Rich Media will enable content publishers - "from major record labels to local football teams", apparently - to make their content available on the Web.

BT Remote Management System

Available later this year, BT Remote Management System will allow troubleshooting and diagnosis of broadband service issues using home network routers in punters' homes.

Combined with BT's recent announcement for its "Basic" broadband at £19.99 a month, the telco reckons this will give people "solid reasons to buy broadband by using the technology to transform their lives and the way they communicate".

Said BT Retail chief exec Pierre Danon: "These new products and services provide broadband that is flexible and powerful enough to meet the customer's every need.

"They demonstrate clearly that there is far more to broadband than speed, as there has to be if we are to realise mass-adoption far beyond the current two million mark. Not only are they hugely exciting, these developments are real and ready for roll-out, pushing back the frontiers of technology today." ®

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