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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
UK moves up broadband league
keyboard and mouse
"Always-on" broadband is becoming more popular
Price cuts in the broadband internet market have boosted the number of Britons using the high-speed services, telecoms watchdog Oftel has said.

Broadband prices paid by British customers have fallen by more than one third this year, and are now that same as those paid by French, German and US surfers, Oftel said.

Oftel credited the price cuts with fuelling a rise of one half in the number of UK broadband users during 2002.

Britons can now obtain broadband digital subscriber lines (DSL) for a little as 20 a month, Wednesday's report said.

Price cuts

"The UK is moving up the broadband league," said Dave Edmonds, director general of telecommunications at Oftel.

Britain now has more than 600,000 broadband connections and Oftel estimated that new connections were being made a rate of more than 20,000 a week.

"The UK is as cheap or cheaper for consumer broadband than all countries surveyed except Sweden," said Mr Edmonds.

"Taking DSL on its own, the UK is now cheaper than either France or Germany, as prices to consumers have fallen in line with reductions to the wholesale price."

For some business broadband services, the UK was the cheapest country surveyed.

"The UK has a more competitive broadband market than either France or Germany," Oftel said.

'Competitive'

About half of all connections were provided by service providers other than British Telecom, Oftel said.

In the past, BT has been criticised by other internet service providers (ISPs), such a Freeserve, for failing to make enough connections available to rivals, thereby slowing the pace of broadband take-up.

But prices for high speed internet have fallen since April, when BT cut the price of broadband by about 10 a month, triggering price cuts by other ISPs.

Oftel's latest research found that UK consumers continue to get a good deal on dial-up internet access - which differs from always-on broadband services.

AOL launches service

For unmetered dial-up services, UK prices were at least 9% cheaper than other countries in the study, which also looked at France, Germany, Sweden and the US.

Separately, AOL Time Warner said it had launched its long-awaited broadband service in the UK.

It has set a price of 34.99 per month for the service.

The firm will continue to promote its dial-up internet services alongside the new always-on broadband connections.

"We think there is a lot of growth left in the dial-up market in the UK," Karen Thomson, AOL UK chief executive, said.

See also:

23 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
19 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
15 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
17 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
08 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
26 Feb 02 | Business
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