Critics shake heads at Freeserve ADSL plan

ISP charged with grabbing publicity to keep shareholder interest.

Freeserve's plans to roll out ADSL trials in the UK by November met with scepticism and a fair amount of ridicule Monday.

The consensus seems to be that Freeserve, desperately trying to impress its shareholders, is thinking more of looking good to investors than actually rolling out the high speed technology.

Arjay Chowdry, managing director at Freeserve competitor Line One, said his company could "go live with ADSL in November, but we have decided to wait until the first quarter next year, when BT say they will have passed around five to six million households". Chowdry is not convinced that Freeserve's intentions are altogether honourable: "Freeserve has decided to go for the soft launch, whereas we think it is best to wait until there are enough people who can get the service. I would think publicity is a big factor here," he said.

Paul Myers, outspoken critic of Freeserve and UK MD of the UK's first free ISP X-Stream agreed with Chowdry. "New shareholders will greet this as good news and every banker will be looking at this. It's about broadband -- they still have to be seen as though they are doing it, but actually bringing it to market is a different story. I'm off to William Hill to put a bet on that they won't roll this out to six million homes."

Myers criticised BT's pricing structure for holding up the arrival of ADSL services, "If X-Stream could roll it out without going through BT -- I'd be looking at the figures," he said.

Chowdry also believed that consumer ADSL services would not become a viable option before prices dropped to "around £40 to £60 per month for 512kbit/s access".

A Demon spokesman said that although it has been trialling ADSL services with BT for small businesses, there are no plans at present for any consumer trials.

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