BT lays path to faster broadband

8Mbps ADSL services will soon be on offer from BT across much of the UK

Broadband services in the UK are about to get a lot faster, at least for some.

Alongside its proposed regulatory settlement with Ofcom, published on Thursday, BT's wholesale division is planning to begin trialling ADSL at speeds up to 8Mbps.

This is a four-fold increase on its current top speed -- but it's likely that only homes and businesses sited within a few kilometres of their local exchange will be able to get such rates.

BT is also planning to cut the cost of its wholesale broadband products in areas where there is "high customer demand, high take up and lower costs". This is likely to mean high-population urban areas, where some of BT's rivals are keen to use local-loop unbundling to offer competing wholesale services.

This has led to speculation that BT is trying to hamper competition. However, several LLU operators declined to comment in detail on BT's plans on Friday, as they were still studying the details.

Finally, BT is also gearing up for a trial of ADSL2+, a networking technology that could support speeds up to 18Mbps down a standard copper phone line. Few details of these trials are available yet.

BT's proposals to Ofcom include an offer to fence off part of its business into an "access services" division, which would be responsible for giving BT's rivals fair access to its network, and a guarantee of "fair access" to its forthcoming IP-based 21st Century Network.

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