Thus has launched its commercial ADSL service promising internet users a fast and permanent internet connection, although some users may find it a slower service than others.
The launch follows extensive commercial trials with over 500 customers across the UK by Demon Internet, Thus's internet service provider. Customers are being promised web access at downstream speeds of up to 2Mbps, but this is dependent on the condition of their BT copper phone line.
Customers will only be able to take advantage of the fastest speeds if the copper at their local exchange is of good quality, according to Thus. "Good quality copper from an exchange to the end user will enable faster speeds," said a spokeswoman. "Old copper from an exchange is less likely to offer the fastest speeds."
Experts have also warned that ADSL services could suffer problems that will reduce the quality of service. One problem includes crosstalk, which is when electric or magnetic fields from one telecom signal interfere with a signal in an adjacent circuit.
John Griffiths, who lead a team of ISDN researchers at BT's Research Labs in Martlesham, predicted that problems with crosstalk would increase with full-scale deployment of ADSL, which he said will not show up in limited trials.
"The danger is that as operators install more and more equipment there will be higher error rates because of crosstalk and lower throughput," said Griffiths. "As you put more load on the system it will get slower and slower."
However, Thus said it has had no problems with crosstalk in its trials and does not expect to suffer problems after the full launch. "We have had no feedback of any problem with crosstalk or other bandwidth problems. We don't foresee any problems but will always monitor the service and ask for feedback," said the spokeswoman.
The consumer service will be priced at £49.99 per month with connection costing £150. This is £10 more expensive than BT's ADSL service, but Thus confirmed it has asked Oftel to "investigate BT's pricing structure" to determine whether the wholesale cost of ADSL is more than BT charges its retail customers.
The services for business users include a £250 connection fee, and packages ranging from £95 to £290. The professional service, priced at £290, includes the Netopia network server package which allows companies to link up to 100 PCs.
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