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UK Online unveils unbundled 8Mb broadband

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UK Online, the consumer ISP of business-focused broadband outfit EasyNet, is rolling out 8Mb broadband for the metropolitan masses. Priced at £39.99 a month, the service brings "groundbreaking speed at a groundbreaking price and makes the digital home a reality", apparently.

The super-fast service is to rolled out to 230 BT exchanges across the UK by the beginning of next year - exchanges in which EasyNet has installed its own kit in a process known as local loop unbundling (LLU). It means EasyNet is able to provide high-speed services direct to home and businesses.

UK Online - which has "several hundred thousand" customers - also plans to add voice, TV and Video on Demand during 2005, the ISP said today.

Said UK Online general manager Chris Stening: "UK Online Broadband 8000 redefines broadband - breaking through speed restrictions with a breathtaking, unrivalled, unbeatable performance. It propels the internet to unchartered territory for home users, providing groundbreaking speed at a groundbreaking price."

That may be the case, but the service is only available in those areas where exchanges have been unbundled. While 4.4m people might be able to hook up to the service, the rest of the country will not. And while LLU does open up the opportunity to offer faster and more innovative services, critics maintain it can also lead to a new digital divide with people outside of urban highly populated urban areas left behind.

A spokesman for Easynet said there was no reason why BT couldn't roll-out 8Mb broadband - if that's what it wanted to do.

Last week Energis that it would not be investing in LLU because it is "uneconomic for national roll-out". ®

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