NTL follows Telewest with faster broadband

Cable users are looking forward to getting a bandwidth boost that won't hit them in the pocket

Customers of Britain's two cable network operators had a welcome start to the week with the news that they'll be getting more broadband for their money.

NTL and Telewest both announced on Monday that they are increasing the speed of their broadband services but leaving the prices where they are.

Telewest's 512Kbps offering will rise to 750Kbps; its 1Mbps will go up to 1.5Mbps; and its 2Mbps connection will jump to 3Mbps. This means Telewest will become the first residential service to break the 3Mbps barrier. New customers will be able to get their hands on the higher-speed services at the end of May and those already using the service will be upgraded on a "region-by-region" basis during the same period.

All prices for the faster services will remain the same. Telewest Broadband's director of internet services Chaude Raube, in a statement called the move "the biggest shake-up in the broadband market for some time".

Rumours of Telewest's plans leaked over the weekend, ahead of formal confirmation from the firm on Monday morning.

Shortly after Telewest's announcement, NTL declared that it was also rejigging its broadband portfolio. Its entry-level service will increase from 150Kbps to 300Kbps; its mid-tier offering is being upped from 600Kbps to 750Kbps, while its high-end service will move from 1Mbps to 1.5Mbps.

"We look forward to continue delivering on our twin goals of customer centricity and strong broadband growth through 2004 and beyond," said Aizad Hussain, managing director of NTL's residential services business.

Telewest and NTL will be hoping that their beefed-up product offerings will allow them to compete more effectively against other high-speed services to the home. After several years of strong performance, the UK's cable sector has recently started to lag behind BT's ADSL in terms of consumer take-up.

Silicon.com's Jo Best contributed to this report