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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Broadband comes to the High Street
Consumers will be able to pick up broadband in a box
The battle for broadband users in Britain is moving to the High Street with internet service provider Freeserve offering ADSL kits direct from shops.

Consumers will be able to buy a complete broadband connection kit from Dixons, PC World, Currys and The Link stores across the UK as from 24 April.

Selling from the High Street worked well in 1998 when Freeserve launched its dial-up internet service.

It was the one of the first times net access was offered free and the CD's flew out of Dixon's stores, quickly making Freeserve one of the leading internet service providers in the UK.

Winning partnership

Freeserve Chief Executive John Pluthero hopes for a similar effect for broadband.

"Freeserve and Dixons got the UK's internet market moving for the first time when we launched, and this same combination will have an equally prolific impact in broadband," he said in a statement.

The ISP is keen to compete with BT's ISP BTopenworld, which currently dominates the broadband market.

In an official complaint to telecoms watchdog Oftel, Freeserve accused BT of anti-competitive behaviour and of giving unfair preference to its own ISP.

Under Oftel rules, BT must offer wholesale ADSL to any ISP that wants it on an equal footing. Freeserve says current TV adverts break this impartiality.

"BT is a wholesaler but the ads are clearly targeted at consumers. It is rather curious that it is marketing direct to consumers," said a Freeserve spokesperson.

The investigation is still "on-going" according to an Oftel spokesperson.

Growth to continue

In a speech to the Social Market Foundation, an independent think-tank, Director General of Oftel David Edmonds stressed the importance of competition for a healthy broadband market.

Mr Edmonds said the UK was competing well on the global broadband stage.

"We are rapidly approaching half a million UK consumers signing up for high-speed services," he said.

"I am confident that growth will continue."

See also:

17 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Rural residents demand broadband
08 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
BT offers new way to connect to net
19 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Broadband gets popular
13 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
Britons dash for broadband
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