Prices for ADSL high-speed broadband internet services are set to fall following the launch of self-installation packages by BT, Freeserve and other internet service providers (ISPs).
Self-install ADSL was launched by BT Wholesale on 15 January, costing ISPs a £50 set-up fee and £25 a month per line, excluding VAT. Various ISPs are offering services for £30 to £40 a month plus a one-off connection fee of around £50.
Customers signing up for the wires-only deals will also be able to chop and change providers to get the best service, with contracts having notice periods of one or three months, rather than a full year.
But they must buy or rent their own DSL modems and special filters to protect telephone extensions and fax machines from interference.
Although still around £10 a month higher than cable modem prices, self-installation represents cheaper broadband for those with BT lines.
With price blamed as the major sticking point for the poor take-up of high-speed internet access, experts believe that self-installation could begin to transform the numbers of broadband users.
Tim Johnson, principal analyst at Ovum, said: "It'll make a lot of difference. Self-installation is a really important step towards making DSL a mass product and has been one of the major factors in taking the numbers into the millions in Germany.
"I think the operators will pass the million mark in subscribers late next year."
Broadband is important to the development of next-generation ecommerce operations and will help deliver music, film and video games over the internet to computers and digital TVs.
But Johnson warned that businesses would need more persuading before using the technology to link home workers to corporate networks.
"Potentially ADSL could be very good for teleworkers. But the operators haven't made it substantially turnkey," he explained. "There are interface and security issues that IT managers will want resolving before allowing home workers access to the company network through ADSL lines."
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