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Last Updated: Friday, 14 October 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
BT gears up for 'max' broadband
Image of people using technology in a home
Cable companies are already rolling out 10Mbps services
BT is extending a trial of its faster broadband service to prepare for its roll-out across the UK next spring.

The trial starts next month and will help prepare the so-called "Max" service, which offers speeds of up to 8Mbps (megabits per second).

BT's broadband network currently offers download speeds of up to 2Mbps.

The telecoms giant is lagging behind some of its rivals which have already started offering much faster connection speeds of up 24Mbps.

BT said it was committed to ensuring that everyone could take advantage of the "broadband revolution" wherever they live in the UK.

"This testing is essential given BT intends to roll out services of up to 8Mbps across the whole of the UK," said Cameron Rejali, BT Wholesale.

"BT is committed to ensuring that everyone benefits from the broadband revolution whether they live in valleys, villages or city centres."

As well as making web browsing and e-mailing quicker, higher speeds mean people can do more with their net connection, such as watch video, listen to audio, and play games, at the same time.

From November, 53 telephone exchanges around Greater London, Cornwall, Strathclyde, Northern Ireland and South Glamorgan will be upgraded, following the success of recent technical trials.

Increased competition

Cable companies, such as NTL, have already started rolling out basic broadband speeds of 10Mbps.

Image of the countryside

Other net service providers, including Bulldog, Easynet and Be, are starting to offer speeds of up to 24Mbps.

They can do this by using their own technology on top of BT's ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) infrastructure to boost speeds.

The process to let them do this is called Local Loop Unbundling (LLU). It hands BT's rivals control over the part of the network which connects people to their local exchange.

Speeds of eight to 24Mbps are more than adequate for watching excellent quality video and TV, and for sharing the broadband connection for different uses in a household.

All being well with the trial, BT expected to upgrade all 5,300 broadband-enabled exchanges across the UK for the faster speeds.

More people in the UK go online via broadband than by dial-up, according to official figures.

Broadband overtook dial-up in May, and now makes up 50.7% of net connections.

Jupiter Research predicts that by 2010, 80% of online households in Europe will have a broadband connection. That figure likely to be even higher in the UK.

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