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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Cheap broadband lures UK surfers
Computer user
The majority of Brits still connect by dial-up
The number of people connected to broadband in the UK has almost doubled in a year, official figures show.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show 27% of UK net connections are broadband, while dial-up is down to 73% from 85% in April last year.

Recent fervent competition between broadband net providers has seen prices fall, making broadband more attractive.

Broadband analysts say it is a "gold rush" for consumers, with competition giving more choice and cheaper deals.

"While broadband has been available in UK for some years now, when it initially launched, prices were typically about 40 to 50," Jupiter analyst Ian Fogg explained to BBC News Online.

"Although you had much faster, always on connection, the price gap between dial-up and broadband was large."

Faster and permanent

Now, with increased competition, he said, net service providers were making an effort to close that gap, luring dial-up net users onto broadband.

Different service providers offer various speeds of broadband, but all are much faster than dial-up.

Different service providers have tailored packages in different ways. Some are offering high speeds, but with usage limits, while others are offering lower speed with no usage limits
Ian Fogg, Jupiter
Mr Fogg said another factor in the rising number of connections was simply that more people in the UK now had access to it - around 90%.

The ONS figures, a survey of net service providers, suggest there are now fewer dial-up subscriptions than in January 2001, when records began.

The number of permanent broadband connections has leapt from 14.5% in April 2003 to 27.2%.

Many service providers, like Wanadoo (formerly Freeserve), have started to encourage their large base of dial-up customers to swap to their broadband offerings.

They suggest that upgrading to a connection that is faster and permanent is not that much more expensive.

"Dial-up users have their service provider saying look, go for broadband, the price is not that different now," said Mr Fogg.

Confusing packages

But, he said, many net providers could be confusing net users with their array of packages on offer.

"Different service providers have tailored packages in different ways," he said.

"Some are offering high speeds, but with usage limits, while others are offering lower speed with no usage limits."

Although this gives users a choice if they are thinking about signing up to broadband, it can be a confusing turn-off.

Looking ahead, he suggested there may well be more room for service providers to drop prices even more over the next year.

But as the broadband market matures, service providers will start to look at other ways to generate money by offering bundles and packages of extra services to customers.

That includes offering even faster broadband packages, which allow net users to take advantage of rich video and other multimedia content, as well as telephony packages.


SEE ALSO:
Broadband bargains tempt surfers
08 Jun 04  |  Technology
Over 50s urged to catch net bug
21 May 04  |  Technology
Broadband hits four million mark
03 Jun 04  |  Technology
Speed 'tempts dial-up net users'
27 Oct 03  |  Technology
BT set to reduce broadband charge
13 May 04  |  Business


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