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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Britons dash for broadband
telephone and wires, Eyewire
Price of broadband via phonelines has dropped
test hello test
By Mark Ward
BBC technology news correspondent
Britain is catching the broadband bug.

The start of self-install broadband and cuts in the price of fast net access via phone lines seem to have sent Britons rushing to upgrade their net services.

Online stores are reporting shortages of the parts people need to set up their own fast net link, retailers are being inundated with phone calls, and websites that let people check if broadband is available in their area are being overwhelmed.

Some sites are dealing with a big jump in demand now that the announced price cuts have actually taken effect.

Steep rise

It has taken a while but Britain suddenly seems to have got the message about broadband net connections.

February 2002 saw a massive surge in demand

Jonathan Wall,
Although high-speed net access in the UK has been available for almost two years, it has been slow to gather subscribers.

Britain regularly appears in the lower reaches of surveys that measure the number of broadband users in European nations.

But BT's announcement of DIY broadband that does away with installation fees and its decision to cut the cost of high speed ADSL connections via the phone line from April has boosted consumer interest enormously.

BBC News Online has received e-mails from readers complaining that the BT website that lets people find out if their exchange is ready for ADSL has been struggling to cope with the surge in interest.

Some websites where people swap broadband information, such as ADSL Guide, have also reported a steep upsurge of interest.

Net shop

At the same time, online stores are reporting shortages in the microfilters that people need to use to convert their phone line into one that can handle ADSL.

Also proving popular are the network hubs and routers that let people share their broadband link, be it cable or ADSL, between several PCs.

Louise Barrett, spokeswoman for online store Solwise, said its phone lines had been very busy in the last few weeks, largely with calls from people trying to get hold of ADSL kits.

Network neighbourhood icon, BBC
Home networks are becoming more popular
She said that traffic to the Solwise website had been slowly building but leapt soon after BT announced its price cuts. Once the price cuts took effect, demand leapt again.

Now, traffic on its site is five times what it was late last year.

Solwise sources many of its products from Taiwan and now its website reports that many of its top selling products are on order, rather than being available instantly.

Ironically, Hull-based Solwise cannot get a business ADSL connection because it falls into the catchment area for Kingston Communications, which currently does not offer such a service.

Jonathan Wall, press spokesman for web store said broadband modems had been selling slowly for a while, but orders were now picking up.

"February 2002 saw a massive surge in demand," he said. "Sales of ADSL modems increased from run rates of between two and five units per month per line, to over 50."

The Dabs site, too, also reports that customers may have to wait a few days to get their hands on their coveted kit.

See also:

31 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Struggle to get broadband
11 Mar 02 | dot life
Wires are for wimps
19 Nov 01 | dot life
Is broadband working?
26 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Which broadband technology will win?
26 Feb 02 | Business
BT cuts broadband charges
19 Feb 02 | Sci/Tech
Dogged fight for broadband
19 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Go-ahead for DIY broadband
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