BT Retail launches 8Mbps broadband

The communications giant has launched its commercial 8Mbps broadband service, but existing customers will have to sign up for an extra 12 months to get it

BT has launched a high-speed ADSL consumer broadband service capable of download speeds of up to 8Mbps.

Maximum upload speeds will increase from 256Kbps to 448Kbps.

The faster broadband service is based on ADSL Max, which uses existing DSL standards with all rate limitations removed. This offers a much faster downlink speed than BT's current ADSL products, which have been rate-limited since the service was launched.

New users signing up for BT's top-end broadband package — which costs £29.99 per month — will get the new top speed immediately. But current BT Broadband customers will not automatically be upgraded to the free service, but instead will have to register at a BT Web site on a first-come first-served basis, BT Retail said in a statement.

To be upgraded, existing customers will also have to agree to a new 12-month contract.

Customers with more basic broadband packages can pre-register to get the 8Mbps service later in the spring.

BT could not guarantee that those paying the highest tariff would be able to reach the highest download speeds of 8Mbps, admitting that broadband customers could experience download speeds as slow as 2Mbps under normal conditions.

The actual maximum speed depends on a range of factors, including the customer's proximity to their telephone exchange and the quality and length of any telephone extension lines in their home.

"Customers living close to their exchange could get the full 8Mb speed, whilst those living further away might achieve lower maximum speeds of 6Mb, 4Mb, or 2Mb. The Up to 8Mb service is also subject to local availability," said BT.

Although BT bundles security features with its broadband packages, it recommends customers regularly check their computers for adware and spyware to ensure download speeds are maintained.

BT Broadband customers wishing to upgrade from current BT Broadband packages should register at