BT approves DIY broadband Christmas present

Consumers who want fast Internet access will soon have a less costly option. BT's new ADSL package will cut an engineer's visit out of the equation, while reducing the contract commitment

Consumers will be able to sign up for self-installation ADSL services early in the New Year, BT Wholesale confirmed on Tuesday.

This innovation could make broadband services significantly more affordable for consumers. It will cost £5 per month less than standard ADSL services, and -- because an engineer doesn't have to install any equipment in the home -- customers will avoid the installation fee, which can be up to £150.

BT said the wholesale product will be available from 15 January, and it is also expected to be available to consumers from that date.

Many in the industry believe that self-installation is the only way that broadband will become a mass-market product.

Trials of the "wires-only" ADSL product have been running since the start of December. "We are delighted at the success of the trials currently running, and at being able to bring this important new product to mass-market so quickly," said Bruce Stanford, BT director of broadband.

Stanford added that the rollout of self-installation products has already provided a boost to the demand for ADSL services in other countries.

Several ISPs were involved in the trials, and Iomart, Timewarp and Zen Internet have already indicated that they will pass the £5 per month saving directly onto customers. They plan to charge £40 per month + VAT.

Users will have to pay a one-off connection fee of £50 to cover work at the local exchange. In addition, they will also have to buy an ADSL modem. Such devices can cost in excess of £100, but Alcatel UK chairman Peter Radley said recently that prices will drop sharply as demand increases.

Devices such as Fujitsu's FDX310 USB modem could also help take-up. Fujitsu believes that ISPs will subsidise the cost of this cheap ADSL modem in order to tempt users onto broadband.

BT also announced on Tuesday that self-installation users would only be tied to one-month contracts. "We will also be increasing flexibility for self-install customers by cutting minimum term contracts from 12 months to one month -- meaning that, if Service Providers pass this on to end users, they will be able to test drive broadband without fearing a long term commitment," said Stanford.

There had been complaints in the past that customers had to sign up to ADSL for at least a year, which could deter those who lived in rented accommodation or who were planning to move house soon.

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