Ntl prepares to launch business broadband strategy

Cable firm goes after corporate market with high-speed services

Ntl goes head to head with BT as it kicks off a national ad campaign to promote its business arm and gears up to launch its business broadband strategy.

Its £3m campaign is designed to attract small, medium and large businesses across the UK to the services it offers via its business arm ntl Business. Ntl claims it is the second biggest business-to-business communications company in the UK after BT. It has over 76,000 business customers including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Comet, AT&T and Orange.

Better known for its consumer Internet and TV services, ntl is keen to break farther into the lucrative business market. Initially planning to offer businesses ADSL via local loop unbundling, the firm became frustrated by the pace of local loop unbundling and withdrew. The cable firm was planning to launch its own ADSL service in February of this year but that timetable has slipped.

"We are making a big announcement about business broadband in the next couple of weeks," says a ntl spokesman. "It is a lot more advanced that the ADSL we were originally planning."

Ntl angered customers of its broadband cable modem service last week by banning Napster and business use from domestic usage, and speculation in user newsgroups was that it was doing so before launching a more business-orientated home service. This service will be announced alongside the broadband business strategy. Ntl has since changed its acceptable use policy to allow music downloads and gaming for its consumer cable modem service.

Ntl is also trying to raise its profile in the consumer market. Although cable passes around 50 percent of houses in the UK it is estimated cable modem accounts for just 15 percent of the broadband market.

In a survey conducted by ntl three-quarters of those questioned had never heard of broadband. The government is keen to make the UK the best place in the G7 for broadband coverage but recent surveys do not bode well. Britain charges the most in the world for broadband and has the least number of homes connected.

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