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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 03:13 GMT 04:13 UK
NTL ramps up broadband offering
People watching TV and using internet in living room
High-definition TV will depend on fast networks
Cable firm NTL is to up the basic speeds of its broadband offering to 10Mbps.

Subscribers will get a standard minimum 10Mbps connection speed, without paying extra. NTL said it was a "major step" for the UK's digital future."

The higher speeds pave the way for the online delivery of much better quality video and TV.

More people in the UK go online via broadband than by dial-up, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Broadband overtook dial-up in May, and now makes up 50.7% of net connections. Many people now have basic speeds of 1Mbps or 2Mbps.

With an explosion of more rich multimedia content on the web, such as podcasts, video blogs, online gaming, news and other video, voice over IP, music downloads, higher connection speeds are essential.

The content industry needs to step up and deliver content and applications to make it worth delivering these sorts of speeds
Bill Goodland, NTL
It is particularly important when there is more than one computer and multiple wireless devices connected to the net in households.

"Many more customers have more home networks, " Bill Goodland, NTL's director of internet, told the BBC News website.

"You have dads online on the computer, then you have games consoles, and so on. All of those things are broadband capable and they all take bandwidth."

Digital future

Mr Goodland said that part of NTL's mission was to break the "vicious circle" between content providers and consumers.

"The content industry needs to step up and deliver content and applications to make it worth delivering these sorts of speeds," he said.


"Rightly enough, the content industry has tended to say we would create high-bandwidth content if there were enough people to download and enjoy it, but then that is a vicious circle."

People are not willing to shell out for higher speed broadband unless there is content that takes advantage of it, he explained.

By offering all of its subscribers a basic 10Mbps line, he said it was a step towards creating a critical mass of people on really high speeds.

He added that it was time the content industry "geared up" to start delivering more high bandwidth services.

"What happened in the music industry illustrated the dangers of hanging back," he said.

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Next gen of games consoles will demand higher net connections
"The success of legal file-sharing and the download business, iTunes, Napster and the rest, shows that if the content industry can deliver properly packaged, good quality, aggressively prices packages to the market, people will use it."

That message was being taken on board by Hollywood and elsewhere, he said.

He pointed to the BBC's Interactive Media Player (iMP), which is currently undergoing extensive audience trials, as the type of innovative service that was required.

It lets people download BBC programmes to watch for up to seven days after broadcast, at their leisure.

"We think that is going to be a big success. It is a really exciting, mass market consumer product. To really enjoy that, you need really high bandwidth," he said.

The higher speeds will be rolled out fully to 3Mbps customers by the end of this year, and the rest of its 1.4 million customer next year.

NTL also said that usage allowances would go up from 30GB to 75GB a month.

Speedy future

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.

There has been a recent surge in super-fast (8Mbps) broadband services from net providers.

UK Online, the net service provider owned by Easynet, became the first to offer 8Mbps broadband at the end of 2004.

Last month Bulldog upgraded customers from 4Mbps to 8Mbps at no extra cost.

Mr Goodland said that cable technology - fibre optics - had fewer technical issues when it came to being able to offer more people faster speeds.

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