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BT lays out broadband plans

The telco has revealed plans for 1Mbps consumer broadband, more trigger levels, wider SDSL trials and longer-range 512Kbps ADSL
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

ADSL users should be able to sign up for a 1Mbps broadband service by the start of next year, as part of a slew of forthcoming broadband developments announced by BT on Tuesday.

The 1Mbps "premium" broadband service will be trialled this autumn. However, given the physical restrictions on ADSL, not everyone who can currently get the 512Kbps product will be able to get this faster one.

"We'll be conducting trials with service providers, focusing on how they'd like to package the product," a BT Wholesale spokesman told ZDNet UK, explaining that because BT also offers a 1Mbps business product it is "fairly straightforward" to make a consumer version available too.

"There is a more restrictive range with a faster ADSL product," he warned, declining to speculate on what percentage of homeowners might find that their phone line can't support 1Mbps broadband.

Both of the UK's cable companies already offer a 1Mbps broadband product -- with Telewest also announcing on Tuesday that it is gearing up to launch a 2Mbps service -- so this forthcoming 1Mbps ADSL should help ISPs who resell BT's products to compete.

BT also said that it is poised to announce more trigger levels for around 100 local exchanges. These trigger levels are a measure of how many people need to indicate a demand for broadband before BT can upgrade the exchange.

The new trigger levels "are all for local exchanges which have seen significant levels of demand already, even though no trigger had been set," said the BT Wholesale spokesman.

It is likely, though, that these trigger levels -- which should be published by next Monday -- will be in the 400 to 700 range, reflecting the estimated cost of upgrading the exchanges in question.

BT also confirmed that it is planning to increase the range of its 512Kbps ADSL product. As ZDNet UK has reported, this should mean that over 97 percent of homes at an enabled exchange can get ADSL.

BT's trials of SDSL will also be extended from its existing 22 local exchanges to a total of 100 by this May, and a commercial launch of the technology is scheduled for this summer -- aimed at businesses who want a symmetrical broadband connection.

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