22Mbps broadband goes nationwide

A flash of Easynet stocking for Sky

A flash of Easynet stocking for Sky

UK Online has become the first ISP in the UK to roll out its ADSL2+ network nationally, promising speeds of up to 22Mbps.

The service will be available for £29.99 per month in most urban areas, UK Online said, although customers will need to buy a specialised ADSL2+ compatible modem for £79.99 and pay a one-off connection charge of £25 - bucking the trend of free modem giveaways among mainstream ISPs.

While the popularity of super high-speed services with consumers is yet to be proven, a 22Mbps service will certainly prove popular with Sky, which bought UK Online's parent company Easynet in October of this year.

Ian Fogg, analyst at JupiterResearch, said the switch to ADSL2+, which was announced prior to the acquisition, will have been one of the reasons Sky found Easynet an attractive buy.

Fogg said: "To offer the kind of services Sky are looking at offering at the end of 2006 and in 2007, Sky need to have the fastest network possible."

UK Online's announcement follows a spate of news from fellow ISPs looking to boost broadband speeds. Zen and Wanadoo, among others, have opted for local loop unbundling to deliver speeds of up to 8Mbps.

ISP Be was the first to launch 24Mbps using ADSL earlier this year, although only within the London area.

Analysts have speculated that the high-speed revolution may end up being a very localised phenomenon. A research note published last month from broadband watchers Point Topic said speeds of 24Mbps will only be available to homes and businesses within 300 metres of a telephone exchange, with speeds dropping as the distance from an exchange increases.

Point Topic said in the note: "ADSL2+ high-speed services will be unavailable to a large percentage of the population unless and until there is some major investment in extending fibre deeper into BT's access network."