Freeserve to trial ADSL services

The UK's largest ISP is setting the pace yet again. This time it plans to put a high speed link straight into your home.

Ignoring, for now, the prohibitive cost of ADSL Net access for consumers, Freeserve announced Monday that it is to trial ADSL services beginning 22 November. The trials will kick off in London and Birmingham and will then be rolled out to over 6 million homes in all major metropolitan areas in the UK.

Freeserve was unable to give any further details, including pricing, because it is in its 'closed season' in the run-up to first quarter results due Tuesday.

Consumers are likely to be hit with a £200-per-month bill for ADSL thanks to BT's much-maligned charges to ISPs. For each user, BT plans to charge ISPs a £260 installation fee, £60.49 Internal Shift and £1065 to £1590 a year rental for 512kbit/s -- 2Mbit/s downlink speed.

Despite the high cost, one analyst thinks Freeserve's move could start yet another trend. "Although I don't see how consumers are going to be able to afford such services, Freeserve obviously want to be the first to market," said Nick Gibson, Internet analyst at Durlacher. "This will create a hell of a lot of publicity for Freeserve, and if it does well we can expect to see other ISPs quickly jumping on the bandwagon."

Adam Daum, senior analyst at Gartner Group, praised the move as important for a public company: "Freeserve may have twigged that its business model is not as lucrative as it might wish. This is one, cheap, way of storing up its share price by proving that it is an innovative player," he said.

Daum also feels a certain amount of posturing is behind Freeserve's plans which, he believes, wants everyone to knows it is the dominant force on all platforms. "Although the first reaction is that this is completely bizarre, Freeserve may feel that if it stands still too long it will concede ground to ADSL," he said.

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