Cash injection for 24Mbps broadband

ADSL2+ services should be available soon in Birmingham, Manchester and more of London

Internet service provider Be has raised £24.5m to finance a rollout of next-generation broadband services across the UK.

Be hopes to be the first ISP to launch an ADSL2+ service in the UK, capable of offering speeds up to 24Mbps. This is three times faster than the quickest ADSL services on offer today.

Be has already begun offering its 24Mbps service from 52 BT exchanges in London. It now plans to install its equipment in exchanges in Manchester and Birmingham, as well as extending its coverage in London.

Be's goal is to be able to reach close to 50 percent of the population by the end of 2006. Earlier this month it launched a pay-as-you-go 24Mbps service.

Some of the £24.5m was supplied by Novator, a venture capitalist firm.

"We believe there is strong demand in the UK broadband market for a 24Mbps service," said Bruce McInroy, telecom investments partner from Novator, in a statement.

Last October, Be admitted that it was struggling to install its own equipment in BT's local exchanges, a process known as unbundling. This meant that one in ten of Be's new customers weren't getting their service within five weeks.

The problems, which were similar to issues encountered by Bulldog, appeared to indicate that BT's automated system for handling unbundling requests wasn't working well enough.