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Sparks fly as BT boosts business broadband

2Mbps broadband is now standard for BT's small business customers, but one rival has angered the telco by rubbishing the new offering
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

From Friday, companies running one of BT's business broadband packages will see their connection speeds get up to four times faster.

As part of a wider move to boost broadband speeds across the UK, BT is now offering 2Mbps as standard across its range of SME products.

Previously, firms using BT's entry-level Business Broadband Single product — which allowed just one computer to connect to the Internet — only provided a 512Kbps connection. Business Broadband Share, which allows up to four computers to connect wirelessly to the Internet, used to run at 1Mbps.

BT has also added an optional eight-hour service level agreement for companies who buy its Business Broadband Network product, which supports a network of up to 20 PCs.

BT claims that the move will help small and medium-sized businesses benefit from the Internet.

"Standardising 2Mbps across our portfolio for no extra cost is part of our continuing drive to help our business customers really harness the power of broadband," said Beatriz Butsana-sita, head of marketing at BT Business.

But Internet service provider AltoHiway, which sells business broadband products, claims that these products aren't suitable for businesses. According to AltoHiway, there are "hidden costs" such as that for a static IP address &mdash which costs £10 per month.

"Far from being a customer benefit, this is a cynical re-packaging of mainly consumer grade ADSL offerings, dressed up as a business service. In the end it will cost business users more for lower quality basic packages," says Chris Wood, AltoHiway's sales and marketing director.

BT, though, hit back and accused AltoHiway of spreading misinformation.

"They do not know what they are talking about… all we are doing is upgrading speed so we have 2Mbps as standard across the business portfolio at no extra cost to customers. The only extra is the SLA on the top-level product," insisted a BT spokesman. "There are no 'hidden costs'. If you sign up to one of these packages you see what you are getting up front."

Wood also said that BT Business Broadband products were unsuitable for commercial use because customers have to share their maximum bandwidth with up to 49 other users connected at the same local exchange.

"We migrate in ADSL customers who believe they have bought a business service and are horrified to learn that they have contention ratios of 50:1." BT responded, saying: "If customers want more than 50:1 then they can easily upgrade to the 20:1 service."

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