Internet access at 40 times current speeds, online gaming and video on demand are among the services BT will announce when it details its new broadband offering this Thursday.
VNU Newswire has learned exclusively that BT will announce plans to offer Internet access via asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology to 70 per cent of the UK population by 2002. ADSL enables copper phone lines to act as broadband data connections.
Services will include Internet access at speeds ranging from 0.5Mbps to 2Mbps and a 2.5Mbps stream for video on demand. Content partners will not be revealed until nearer the rollout date, but are likely to include Excite UK, Lineone and ITN.
Ian Morfett, BT's director, strategy and business services told delegates at a closed conference last week the service, "will hit the right price point for consumer market entry."
Under competition rules, BT will have to offer a wholesale service in addition to its retail service. This will let third parties, such as ISPs, offer their own ADSL services.
BT must give 90 days notice to interested wholesalers, so first commercial services could be delayed until November. BT earlier said it would cover around 25 per cent of UK citizens by next March.
Oftel last month said BT must open its local markets to competition by 2001.
"It was just a matter of time before one of BT's competitors introduced a DSL service. This is BT getting the jump on its competitors instead," said James Eibisch, analyst at IDC.
BT has been offering broadband interactive content including multiplayer gaming and streaming video to participants on its ongoing ADSL trial in west London. Access to the "always on" service - called BT Interactive - has cost participants £30 per month. (see Newswire 21 October 1998)
Earlier this month, BT announced a "multi-million pound" order with Alcatel and Fujitsu for ADSL equipment for local exchanges and customers. ADSL boosts data flow down copper phone lines to up to 16 times the speed of ISDN. (see Newswire 5 July 1999)
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