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Summer slot for Sky's broadband launch

Details 'pretty soon'

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Sky is to launch its residential broadband service this summer, the satellite TV operator said today.

Despite a string of questions by analysts earlier today, Sky boss James Murdoch declined to spill the beans on Sky's plans for broadband following its £211m acquisition of local loop unbundling (LLU) operator Easynet last year.

In March the firm said the Sky broadband service was due to be unveiled in the second half of 2006. Now, the timing has been narrowed to this summer with details due to be released "pretty soon".

Asked to comment on Carphone Warehouse's offer of "free broadband forever" - a phone, broadband, and line rental package for £20.99 a month - Murdoch said the proposal was "aggressive...as we expected".

Murdoch's refusal to be drawn on whether Sky intended to match Carphone's offer follows the latest round of industry whispers that Sky is mulling a number of pricing options, including free broadband access to premium subscribers.

While today's analyst Q&A was short on detail concerning Sky's consumer broadband plans, the satellite broadcaster did reveal that it has made "good progress" in its roll-out of LLU.

Sky has now installed its own kit in 259 BT exchanges. With around a dozen exchanges being unbundled each week, it plans to reach around 379 BT exchanges by the end of June. This would mean that some 7.5m (30 per cent) of UK homes would be connected to a Sky-unbundled exchange. The operator is looking to increase coverage so that 70 per cent of UK homes can access its broadband service by the end of 2007. ®

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