Broadband for a tenner - but only up North

Cheap broadband operator plans nationwide rollout in next year

Internet users living in Leeds and Bradford will be able to take advantage of a cheap broadband service as business broadband operator Tele2 extends its offer to consumers.

While BT offers ADSL for £39.99 per month and cable companies attempt to undercut this with their broadband offerings, Tele2 is rolling out a wireless broadband service for £9.99 per month in what it describes as "a major step forward in making high-speed Internet access affordable".

Tele2 was granted a spectrum licence in June and has primarily targeted small to medium-sized businesses. It spotted a gap in the market and decided to extend its service to consumers. "We had a wireless network that was basically redundant during off-peak hours," says a spokesman. The service will not be as quick as current broadband offerings, with a speed of 150Kbps in both directions, but Tele2 is confident it will be more than adequate for the average consumer.

Unlike some services, there will not be any limitation on the amount of downloads users can make and the £49.99 installation fee is a little easier on the pockets than BT's £150 payment. However not everyone will be eligible for the service. "We conduct a line of site survey free of charge to check that the signal is strong enough. If there is a large block of trees between you and our base station that might be a problem," says Tele2's chief executive Elliot Mueller.

Initially Tele2 plans the Leeds and Bradford rollout as a trial but intends to extend it to forty other regions -- mainly towns and cities -- in the next 12 to 18 months.

BT is not concerned about the new competition. "Our reach is far greater and it is not just about cost, it is about offering the best content," says a BT spokesman. "Customers are willing to pay for that." Mueller, on the other hand, does not view BT's portal as much of a threat. "Our content is the Internet," he says.

BT is also testing wireless technology to complement its fixed line ADSL service. It has decided not to go down the radio licence route and will not be bidding for spectrum in the upcoming wireless broadband auction. Instead it is trialling wireless delivery via satellite.

See also the Broadband Access guide

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