Ntl has joined fellow cable company Telewest in promising its customers a faster broadband service.
Starting next week, ntl subscribers will be able to sign up for a 1mbps link to the Internet. Like BT, ntl has previously offered its home users a 512kbps broadband product, but the cable firm believes this faster product will help it compete, following BT's recent price cuts.
Speaking at the FT New Media and Broadcasting conference on Tuesday, ntl managing director Stephen Carter promised that 2.5m homes will be able to access the new faster product from 11 March. "When we put our foot down on the marketing accelerator, we will do so in the knowledge that we have a fast and reliable service," he said.
Existing ntl customers will be charged £49.99 a month for the 1mbps product, while new subscribers must pay £59.99 per month.
Telewest announced last week that it was planning to offer a 1mbps package, but was unable to say when it might launch, or at what price.
BT recently announced substantial price cuts that will allow Internet Service Providers to offer a 512kbps broadband service to consumers for less than £30 per month. Having suffered much criticism in the past for the fact that users had to pay £40 or more per month for ADSL, the telco claims that ntl's new product will cost too much for many people.
"You can't create a mass-market product if you're charging £50 per month. Our priority at the moment is with bringing prices down, not pushing them up," a BT spokesman told ZDNet News.
BT could offer a faster service to home users on its existing infrastructure, but it claims there is little demand at the moment. "Our experience is that most home users are happy with 512kbps services, and that it is business users who really benefit from our 1mbps and 2mbps products. There's not enough suitable content on the Internet to make a 1mbps service necessary for consumers," he added.
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