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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Wanadoo ups basic broadband speed
Poster advertising net services, AP
Competition for broadband customers is heating up
Wanadoo has joined the roster of big net firms offering eight megabits per second (Mbps) broadband.

Initially the package will only be available to the small number of customers in areas where Wanadoo has taken over BT lines.

Eventually Wanadoo said the 8Mbps service could be available to half of its customers.

The announcement is widely seen as a response to BT's plan to roll out an 8Mbps service nationally in 2006.

Fast forward

From November new Wanadoo customers in areas where BT lines have been unbundled will be able to take up the 8Mbps service. Alongside the high-speed broadband will go free off-peak net calls for six months and a package of other services.

The package will cost 14.99 for only the first six months and 17.99 after that, though bandwidth is capped.

Wanadoo and many other large net firms are facing competition from cable firms such as NTL and others that already sell broadband services that run at very high speeds.

NTL offers a 10Mbps services and firms such as Bulldog, Easynet and Be are starting to let people go online at 24Mbps.

Wanadoo only began its unbundling trials in August 2005 and it currently has only 500 unbundled customers in Leeds and Bristol. For all other broadband services it re-sells phone lines from BT Wholesale which limits the top speed to 2Mbps.


When local lines from phone exchanges are unbundled, net firms take them off BT and connect them directly to their own network. In this way they can typically offer higher speeds and a wider range of services to customers.

Wanadoo said that it could eventually offer speeds of 24Mbps to its customers.

Wanadoo said it was planning to take over more BT lines in Leeds and Bristol and start doing the same in London, Manchester and Birmingham so it can offer the 8Mbps service to about 12% of the UK population.

Within a year Wanadoo, formerly Freeserve, hopes to have unbundled lines in 500 exchanges to cover 40% of the population.

Separately Wanadoo has said that it wants more than half of its customers logging on via its network rather than BT's within three years.

Those customers not on the unbundled lines will get a 2Mbps service as standard.

In mid-October BT announced trials of a "Max" service that runs at 8Mbps which will be the pilot for a national roll-out that is scheduled to take place in 2006. The current high-speed on BT's network is 2Mbps.

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