Broadband in a box to hit the shops

Shoppers will be able to pick up a Freeserve broadband Internet package on the high street

Freeserve is moving its battle with rival Internet Service Provider BTopenworld onto the high street next week, as it begins selling broadband installation kits through Dixons, PC World, Currys and The Link stores.

Customers will also be able to check that their local exchange has been broadband-enabled -- which will be important as only 60 to 70 percent of homes are covered by BT's ADSL network.

Costing £84.99, the package will contain an ADSL modem, filters and Freeserve registration software. This will let users get high-speed Internet access for £29.99 per month.

Freeserve's "broadband in a box" will go on sale from 24 April.

Chief executive John Pluthero claimed that the partnership with Dixons -- which launched Freeserve in 1998 before selling 80 percent of the ISP to French group Wanadoo last year -- would be highly successful.

"No one better understands how to shift consumer electronics products than Dixons, and so the 'broadband in a box' concept sold in their stores plays beautifully into Freeserve's hands," claimed Pluthero in a statement. "Put this together with the learning we have from our parent company Wanadoo's rapid-roll of DSL in France, and you have all the ingredients for Freeserve to be the UK's broadband provider of choice."

Freeserve accused BTopenworld of anti-competitive behaviour last month, and claimed that the ISP had been unfairly tipped off about the recent wholesale ADSL price cuts made by BT -- charges denied by BTopenworld.

While many smaller ISPs, such as Pipex, are offering broadband services cheaper than Freeserve and BTopenworld, it seems likely that it will be these two companies whose marketing activities will do more to encourage broadband take-up.

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