BT to begin public trial of 256Kbps ADSL

More UK ISPs should soon be able to offer slower entry-level Internet access products

BT is moving closer to making a slower ADSL product available to Britain's Internet service providers (ISPs).

The telco will begin testing a wholesale 256 kilobits-per-second ADSL broadband product called IPStream Home 250 next month, in a trial involving at least 10 Internet service providers and 200 end users.

IPStream Home 250 has already been tested within BT, and this market trial is meant to help with issues such as network performance and system reliability. It will run for two or three months, and if successful should lead to a full commercial launch this autumn.

At present, BT Wholesale's entry-level broadband product, which is resold by over 100 ISPs, runs at 512Kbps.

Several ISPs, such as Tiscali, already offer 256Kbps products by making use of a product called DataStream that gives them more flexibility about the services they can offer. Many other operators, though, don't possess the back-end network capacity needed to make use of DataStream. The launch of IPStream Home 250 aims to redress this, and allow any UK ISP to offer a 256Kbps service.

In the past certain quarters of BT have been privately scathing about services that were slower than 512Kbps, claiming they shouldn't be classed as broadband. Other operators, though, believe that 256Kbps products can act as a stepping stone into the world of broadband as they should be slightly cheaper than 512Kbps products.