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Late, fast and pricey: O2 broadband is go

Line rental not included, pay-as-you-goers pay a premium

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O2 has released details of its imminent broadband service after packages and pricing were leaked on the internet.

The official launch is set for 15 October, but O2 has confirmed Thinkbroadband.com's report yesterday that it'll offer its mobile punters up to 20Mbit/s access for £15 per month. A spokesman said the firm had dialed down the theoretical maximum 24Mbit/s its kit is capable of because of the risk of "over-promising" given the demand it is anticipating.

The mid-range will run to £10 per month for up to 16Mbit/s, while the cheapest up to 8Mbit/s service will cost £7.50 per month. Usage on all packages will be "unlimited", with no set upper download limit, but with a fair usage policy. There'll be free 24-hour tech support in UK call centres.

A £10 premium will be charged on all packages for non-bundled and pay-as-you-go customers, and line rental and voice calls aren't included, so households will have to pay another provider on top. BT's cheapest line rental offer is £10.50 per month.

At launch, O2's LLU ADSL2+ network will reach only half the population, mostly in urban areas.

Be Unlimited, the ISP O2 bought last year for £50m to get into the broadband game, will continue to run as a separate ISP in parallel. It makes it unnecessary for pay-as-you-go and non-O2 customers to pay the premium. Be's own 8Mbit/s package is £14 per month compared to £17.50 for the O2 equivalent, for example.

O2 has set itself the thoroughly unambitious public goal of one million broadband users by 2010 - just 5.6 per cent of its 17.8 million-strong mobile base.

Since launching last year, Sky Broadband has grown to 716,000 lines on the back of eight million TV subscribers. O2 says it's got no plans to follow BT and Tiscali into the IPTV field.

O2 has also eschewed the "free" model favoured by Orange's volatile broadband service, claiming its ponderous entry into the market (delayed several times) indicates a thoughtful approach that will ensure a smooth rollout.

It'll be the first major player to make a commercial offering of ADSL2+, so only time can tell. O2 will judge its success many monthly mobile customers it helps retain. ®

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