BT has officially launched a Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL) service aimed at business users.
BT Business Broadband Advanced will be initially aimed at small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in London and Coventry.
BT aims to roll out the service to other metropolitan areas including Manchester and Edinburgh between April this year and March 2005.
SDSL is more attractive to businesses than ADSL because it offers the same data transfer rates for upstream and downstream traffic.
Ian Fogg, broadband analyst for Jupiter, said the service would be good for SMEs. "It will take a while to roll out. Unlike consumers, many need to upload and transmit a lot of data. Upload speed are as important to them as download speeds.
"SMEs should look at their internet usage patterns to see if SDSL will be useful," he added.
BT has already enabled 100 exchanges in London and the Midlands and will be offering three speeds: 512Kbps at £170 per month, 1Mbps at £230 per month and 2Mbps at £345 per month.
The contention ratio will be 10 to one. BT will have to put in new lines for subscribers, even those with ADSL, so it will charge a one-off connection fee of £699 including VAT.
BT has trialed the SDSL service with 70 customers in London and Coventry since October 2003.
It claims this showed there is a real need for SDSL as it gives SMEs access to services such as virtual private networks, which were previously available only to big business.
According to BT's figures, 91 per cent of trial customers said they are likely to purchase SDSL in the future.
Manager of BT Business's internet infrastructure Mike Gardiner said: "ADSL will remain the key product but [this was] an exceptionally successful trial."
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