Broadband speeds could soon reach new heights as cable operator NTL pilots ADSL2+ — a technology that offers a maximum download speeds of 18Mbps.
Such rates are only possible over short distances, but NTL says that 95 percent of homes are within one kilometre of its high-speed fibre network. This means ADSL2+ should run at high speeds over the copper wire that runs between NTL's roadside cabinets and individual homes.
"The field trials are to determine the technological potential of these next-generation broadband services and evaluate the operational benefits of ADSL2+," said an NTL spokesman. "Our fibre-rich network means that we have the potential to provide customers with multiple services through a single high-speed IP connection."
The company also been testing streaming of high-definition broadcasts over its IP fibre network.
BT is planning to begin trialling ADSL2+ this year. However, only a small proportion of its customers live within one kilometre of their local telephone exchange, which could limit BT's ADSL2+ top speeds. Few details of BT's ADSL2+ trial have been released as yet.
BT's wholesale division is also about to begin trialling ADSL at speeds up to 8Mbps — a four-fold increase on its current top speed. However, it is likely that only homes and businesses within a few kilometres of their local telephone exchange will be able to get such rates.