BT has announced a six-month trial of high-speed interactive services using Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Loop (ADSL) technology - a broadband technology it has been researching since 1994. The trial will begin in January and uses technology from Fujitsu and Alcatel. Over 2,000 homes and businesses will take part in the trial in south east London, which is expected to expand nationally if successful. Peter Bonfield, chief executive of BT, said: "We are now convinced that, with the increase in market demand for high bandwidth driven by the Internet, the dynamics of the market-place will allow us to upgrade our copper into higher bandwidth using ADSL." ADSL is widely believed to be the next logical step in Internet connectivity, offering access speeds of up to 2Mbps download and 200Kbps upload, over the existing copper wire infrastructure - a cost-saving element close to BT's core principles. A spokesman said: "ADSL is essentially an upgrade of our existing copper wire system so it's obviously very competitive." And it has an extendable life too, the spokesman explained: "Even before we have got ADSL, work has already started on VDSL which will offer 10Mbps." VDSL, which is particularly suited to LANs and WANs, is expected to arrive by the year 2000. Ian Rathmell, industry analyst at Dataquest, believes ADSL will be far more popular in the residential arena because it is not a symmetrical solution. He explained: "ADSL is certainly a hot button right now but how much of this is designed to scare off competitors like Nortel I don't know. The problem with ADSL is that it was designed for video on demand. It's a superhighway in your direction but a dirt track going the other way." Comment: ADSL will be welcomed by anyone using the Internet, but it is not strictly meant for business purposes, being more suited to high transmission services such as video on demand. BT believes that while take-up of the technology will probably be swift in the corporate sector, it is far more likely to be marketed at the consumer.
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