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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February 2005, 09:04 GMT
Full speed ahead for broadband
Bunch of cables
Broadband is speeding up
If you are a speed freak then the good news is that 2005 looks like being a vintage year as internet firms continue to increase the speed of broadband and lower prices.

The glut of offers can be confusing.

But here is a run-down of some of the firms already offering speeds of 2Mbps or above.

UK ONLINE

This service provider really took the bull by the horns at the end of last year, shaking the market up with an 8Mbps (megabits per second) service.

It is 16 times the speed of the average 512Kbps (kilobits per second) services on the market and has a 39.99 price tag.

Not everyone can get it as it is based in metropolitan areas such as London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cambridge. That represents about 4.4 million households.

It comes with a monthly bandwidth cap of 500 gigabytes.

UK Online also offers a 2Mbps service for 29.99, which is available across the whole country.

BULLDOG

Another service provider that likes to shake up the market, Bulldog, launched the UK's first pay-as-you-go 4Mbps service this month.

The service is aimed at those who love the idea of super-fast broadband but do not necessarily have the budget for it.

For 15.50 a month, users will get 400 minutes of up to 4Mbps broadband - which works out at roughly 13 minutes a day. Any extra time will be charged at a rate of 2.5p a minute.

For 21.50, the same broadband rules apply but users also get unlimited national calls thrown in.

Those signing up in February will get six months worth of unlimited time online.

QUICK GUIDE

Users will need a Bulldog phone line, which costs 10.50 per month.

For those who prefer to pay upfront, the service is available for 40 a month, or 52 if they want the unlimited phone call option.

TELEWEST

The cable companies have been at the forefront of pushing speeds up and have been quietly upgrading their services at no extra charge.

Telewest currently charges 50 a month for a 4Mbps service.

This started life in May 2003 as a 2Mbps service, became 3Mbps in early 2004 and was re-born as 4Mbps late last year.

There is also a 2Mbps service available at 35, and Telewest is keen to stress that, unlike some ADSL providers, there is no monthly bandwidth cap.

NTL

The UK's only other cable operator is due to announce its own upgrades within the next few weeks.

It will see them offer a 3Mbps service for 37.99 and a 2Mbps service for 24.99.

It is understood that the two new services will have a 45 gigabyte and 30 gigabyte usage allowance.

NTL is preparing to launch super super-fast broadband, with speeds of up to 100Mbps.

Keith Monserrat, NTL's director of policy has recently been quoted as saying that is would be "relatively easy" to offer such speeds on its fibre-based network in the "not too distant future".

Others dispute how the company could do it without an expensive outlay and a lot of road digging.

Andrew Ferguson, a broadband expert and editor of the ADSL Guide, believes some of the talk could be marketing speak on NTL's behalf but believes 2005 could be a make or break year for the cable firm.

If its plans come to fruition it could go head to head with BT he predicts.

AOL

Not to be outdone, AOL has just announced its own upgrade for customers. Those who previously paid 29.99 a month for a 1mbps service will have that doubled as of Valentine's day.

BT

BT has announced it will double download speeds for most customers - offering 2Mbps - from 17 February, at no extra charge.

In April the telco will begin a trial of an 8Mbps service with an expected launch in the autumn. That service would then be on offer to other ISPs to use and sell to customers.

It will also be trialling its ADSL 2+ service, which offers up to 20Mbps, at some point this year with products available in 2006, predicts Jupiter analyst Ian Fogg.

PlusNet

PlusNet announced this month a 2Mbps service for 14.99 but it does come with a one gigabyte a month usage allowance.

Users can pay an extra 1.50 for every extra gigabyte they require.

For uncapped use, customers have to pay 39.99 per month.

ECLIPSE

Eclipse broadband offers a 2Mbps service, for 14.99.

There is a one gigabyte per month usage limit but extra bandwidth can be bought for 1.75 per extra gigabyte.




SEE ALSO
Why I'm giving up broadband
07 Feb 05 |  Magazine
BT offers equal access to rivals
03 Feb 05 |  Business
Broadband soars in 2004
27 Dec 04 |  Technology
Broadband steams ahead in the US
23 Dec 04 |  Technology
Broadband in the UK gathers pace
20 Dec 04 |  Technology

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