BT has become the latest ISP to give broadband customers a free speed boost, bumping connections from 8Mbit/s to 20Mbit/s.
The upgrade forms part of the telco's 21CN project, and sees a wide-scale rollout of ADSL 2+ support across large portions of its network which will provide access to faster download and upload speeds at about 10 million locations.
Around 60,000 users have already undergone the change as part of a trial, and 549 exchanges are being upgraded, accounting for around 40 per cent of connections. Coverage is expected to be increased to 55 per cent by March 2010.
"Unlike other providers, BT is upgrading customers to 20Mbit/s for free," said Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail.
"We believe the true value of broadband is in helping customers enjoy the exciting new services that it makes possible. In line with the government's Digital Britain review, we will be making higher speeds more widely available."
Business users are being given priority for the new service, and can order the free upgrade immediately if they are connected to an enabled exchange.
Residential customers are going to have to wait until early summer, when new customers, or those willing to renew their contracts in an enabled exchange area, will automatically be eligible for the faster service.
BT has also announced that it will soon begin trialling its first 40Mbit/s fibre-based broadband service in Whitchurch, South Wales and Muswell Hill, London this summer.
The announcement was praised by James Parker, broadband manager at comparison site MoneySupermarket.com.
"This is yet another indication of BT's commitment to delivering faster broadband to millions of homes across the UK and, although not a cable product, it will go a long way to challenge Virgin Media's increasing rollout," he said.
"As internet becomes a necessity and is increasingly turned to for entertainment, it is vital that the development and rollout of broadband keeps the pace."
Those wishing to find out whether they are eligible for the upgrade can visit BT's web site which provides a post code checker and further details on the move.
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