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Wednesday, 19 December, 2001, 11:04 GMT
Go-ahead for DIY broadband
Eager net surfers could soon be installing their own broadband connection
Get out your screwdriver and install your own fast net link
Going online via a broadband connection in the UK looks set to get easier and cheaper in 2002.

BT has confirmed that it will launch a DIY broadband service in mid-January that removes the need for an engineer to visit customers to install the high-speed connection.

Letting customers install their own broadband service should speed up the whole process of getting a high-speed link.

Cutting out the cost of installation should also make fast net services cheaper.

Cost cutting

The percentage of Britain's net users who go online via a fast Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) connection is growing, albeit very slowly. Over 120,000 people are now online with ADSL.

Existing fast modems work at maximum speeds of 56 kilobits per second (kbps). By contrast ADSL works up to 10 times faster.

At the moment BT's Wholesale division is the main company offering ADSL connections to net service providers who then resell the broadband links under their own name.

One of the main hurdles to increasing the numbers of broadband users is the fact that a BT engineer has to visit every customer of the 199 firms reselling DSL.

Evidence from other countries shows that self-install gives a huge boost to demand for broadband ADSL services

Bruce Stanford, BT broadband director
The engineer connects up customers' computers to a DSL modem, and modify's a customer phone so it can support high data rates.

But the DIY broadband service needs no engineer, removing the need to charge a 150 installation fee.

Consumers will have to buy their own DSL modem and currently many of these retail for 100. Prices are likely to drop if large numbers of people take up the DIY service.

Savings for customers

BT Wholesale has said that the cost of DIY broadband to net service providers will be lower than the existing tariff. Many ISPs are expected to pass this saving on to customers.

The minimum contract period for the new service is also shorter. Currently anyone signing up for DSL has to commit to a 12-month contract. With the DIY service, customers need only sign up for one month.

The delay between a consumer signing up for a fast net service and the day it is installed is also likely to shrink.

BT Wholesale claims it deals with all installation requests within two weeks of notification, but this is still too slow for many people. Anecdotal evidence suggests many people wait much longer. DIY broadband could cut this waiting time to a couple of days.

Consumers will be able to sign up for a fast service, buy a DSL modem and then wait until BT tells them their phone line is broadband ready.

"Evidence from other countries shows that self-install gives a huge boost to demand for broadband ADSL services," said Bruce Stanford, BT's director of broadband.

See also:

24 Sep 01 | Business
Speed freaks sign here
28 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Cost of broadband net 'must fall'
18 Dec 01 | Business
UK broadband 'to triple in 2002'
03 Dec 01 | Business
UK to speed up broadband
19 Nov 01 | dot life
Is broadband working?
10 Oct 01 | Wales
Broadband boost to wire country
18 Dec 01 | UK
Women catch up on net use
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