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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Speed freaks sign here
Robbie Knievel jumps the Grand Canyon on a motorbike AP
If you want to get there quickly, do it yourself
By BBC News Online technology correspondent Mark Ward

UK broadband users could soon be sorting out their own high-speed on-ramp to the information superhighway.

BT is poised to unveil a "broadband-in-a-box" product that should make it much easier to sign up to and start using fast net access.

The move will make it cheaper to get a high-speed net connection, and could boost the take-up of such services in the UK.

Trials of the DIY broadband system are already underway, and it should be widely available in early 2002.

Speed bumps

The irony of having to wait a long time to get on to the net quicker than ever could soon be a distant memory.

Instead of having to wait for an engineer to call to install your Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) service, it could soon just be a case of telling BT you have bought a high-speed modem, hooking it up and then roaring off down the internet.

ADSL works at far higher speeds than the maximum 56 kilobits per second (kbps) that is possible with a standard modem. The basic ADSL service available from BT works in excess of 500 kbps.

Currently most people have to wait at least two weeks from initially signing up for the service to actually having it installed.

The broadband-in-a-box service is also likely to make taking up the service much cheaper. Currently, anyone signing up for ADSL has to pay an installation fee, as well as a fixed monthly subscription.

All companies

All the companies offering ADSL services do so by reselling lines from a division called BY Wholesale. Now, BT Openworld has announced that it is halving the cost of installation until the end of the year.

Under this scheme, a home user signing up for the Home 500 product would pay only 75 plus a monthly fee of 39.99.

Duncan Ingram, head of consumer net services at BT Openworld, said the company had not yet worked out how much cheaper the new service would be. He said it would not remove all installation work and there might be a small charge for BT making changes at its end.

"There is still some work to be done at the exchange," said Mr Ingram, "but it should make it more attractive for everyone."

Although BT Openworld is trialling the broadband-in-a-box service, it will not be the only company offering the product when all the trials are complete. Anyone currently offering an ADSL service will be able to resell it.

"The day it's available to us it's available to everyone," said Mr Ingram.

See also:

26 Jun 01 | Business
BT mulls higher high speed prices
21 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
MPs slate high-speed net rollout
12 Feb 01 | dot life
Why are we waiting?
08 Jul 01 | Business
Cable giants join to boost broadband
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