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PlusNet dangles details of 8 meg regrade

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PlusNet is to begin upgrading its customers to new 8 meg services from the end of the month, the Sheffield-based ISP confirmed today.

It plans to upgrade its 200,000 or so broadband punters for free and without asking them to sign new contracts. PlusNet's speed shift is part of a nationwide speed increase from BT Wholesale which will see more than 5,300 exchanges across the UK upgraded to support services up to 8Mb.

BT announced details of its ADSL Max service earlier this month with the faster speeds available for new orders from 31 March. However, it will take several months to regrade all DSL users, which is why BT is in talks with ISPs concerning the bulk migration of end users.

Of course, once provided with an 8Mb line there are no guarantees that end users will reach such speeds. According to BT, eight in ten broadband users should be able to get 4Mb and above, while only those people closest to their BT exchange can expect speeds nearing 8Mb.

For its part, BT Retail will be making its 8Mb service available to "some of its customers" from 4 April before rolling it out to all users over the following months. It also says it won't be charging extra for these higher speeds, "making it a free upgrade for our customers similar to when we introduced 2Mb speeds nationally".

Elsewhere, local loop unbundling ISP Be is trialling a new faster upload service among some of its broadband users. The "Annex M" trials, as they are known, have helped boost average upload speeds to 1.9Mb. Once the tests have been completed Be intends to upgrade its Office product with no additional fee. ®

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