BT and France Telecom are among 30 telecoms industry leaders that have joined forces to accelerate the development of technology that could increase internet download speeds to 400-times that of ISDN.
The companies, which include operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Qwest Communications and equipment manufacturers Motorola and Nortel, have formed a committee to advance the commercial deployment of the digital subscriber line technology, called VDSL.
VDSL transmits high-speed data over copper lines, with speeds depending on the length of copper. The technology could support 52Mbps downstream and up to 2.3Mbps upstream, and is expected to be used by large businesses to connect to other buildings or to a local exchange.
VDSL, which has been demonstrated in laboratories for more than two years, can also be used to deliver digital programming, high-speed data and voice services over traditional phone lines.
However, the technology is not yet standardised and one of the committee's key objectives is to achieve the completion of international standards for VDSL within six months.
Don Clarke, BT's VDSL developer, said: "We believe that rapidly increasing competition for entertainment video, high-speed data and voice services has highlighted the need for service providers to accelerate deployment of a broadband solution for the global copper wire access infrastructure based on VDSL."
Tim Johnson, an analyst at Ovum, said the formation of the committee is a promising step towards faster networks in the UK.
"VDSL offers much higher bandwidth than [asymmetric] ADSL, although it has a much smaller range of around a few hundred metres. There has been a big push and a lot of interest from telcos in this technology as it will enable competition against cable operators," he said.
"It will be around two to three years before VDSL will be used seriously, but it is encouraging to see the formation of a committee to push standards forward," he added.
The committee said it will work closely with the DSL Forum and other bodies to achieve its goals. Members of the committee include hardware manufacturers, software developers, and voice and video providers.
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