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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"High speed services have been slow to arrive"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
BT enters broadband arena
Man using PC
ADSL offers more services to PC users
BT is launching a new broadband service that will offer instant and always-on high-speed internet access.

The portal will be available through BT's online subsidiary BTopenworld from July.

Observers had expected that BT would have rolled out its broadband service much earlier.

The UK is still far behind the United States, where ADSL was introduced in 1998. It is predicted that 18 million internet users in the US will be using broadband by 2003.

Among UK telecom operators, only Telewest has already launched its broadband service.

Called Blueyonder, it is currently available only in cable households in south-east England. It charges 50 a month.

Kingston Communications has also been trialling broadband in Hull.

Cable operator NTL is running a trial for cable modems in "certain areas of Surrey, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire".

Costs

The BT service will cost 39.99 a month for consumers, with an installation fee of 150.

Businesses wanting a single use connection will have to pay VAT on top of those prices.

Multi-user business deals will cost 99.99 a month with a 260 installation charge - both prices are exclusive of VAT.

Existing phone lines can be used, but hardware will need to be adapted. Some makes of new PC will come pre-installed.

Video on demand

Initial speeds will be up to 512 kilobits per second (kbps), but BT hopes to upgrade to 1 or 2 megabits per second (mbps) by the autumn.

Analysts say the higher speeds will be necessary if BT is to offer video on demand services over its ADSL network.

The greater capacity of broadband enables much faster internet access as well as facilities such as interactive digital TV and video e-mail.

"The advent of broadband and mobile is creating a second internet wave," said Ben Andradi, chief operating officer of BTopenworld, which was created earlier this month in a reorganisation of BT's internet operations.

"Research shows that a broadband customer will stay online four times as long as a narrowband customer, and spend nearly three times as much on e-commerce.

"We aim to achieve UK leadership in the broadband internet space through BTopenworld. We have the right skills, platforms, content relationships and aggressive marketing to enable us to succeed."

BTopenworld has lined up 50 content providers, whose services will be available for customers.

By the end of the year, the company also plans to introduce a "personal openworld portal", a personal gateway to content and applications accessible from devices including WAP mobile phones and TVs as well as PCs.

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See also:

23 Mar 00 | Business
Telewest speeds internet
30 Nov 99 | Business
BT forced to open network
04 Apr 00 | Business
EU drive for cheaper net access
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