The tantalising prospect of a nationwide ADSL rollout from Kingston Communications is being held out to users this week.
Hull City Council will decide on Thursday whether to float Kingston.
If it does, the investment will be used to expand Kingston's operations, including SDH (synchronous digital hierarchy) and ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line), from its current base in Hull to the rest of the country.
Such a move would be a boost to users, who are eagerly awaiting BT's trial of ADSL, which has been pushed back to July (see PC Week, 19 January).
Kingston is the only telecoms firm in the country with a commercial ADSL service now, but it is confined to Hull.
"ADSL provides a cheap alternative to leased lines and greater flexibility for what we want to do," commented Jonathan Levy, managing director of Pentagon Communications, a video maker in Hull using the Kingston service.
Kingston launched its ADSL service in December following an 18-month trial. The company claims to need the investment a flotation would bring to enable a wider rollout.
Hull City Council is the principal shareholder in Kingston. In a statement, the council said: "The best way to meet our aggressive business development strategy to extend our operation into other regions of the UK would be a partial flotation."
"The ADSL network is currently only in Hull, but potentially we could roll this out further afield," said a spokeswoman for Kingston. "We also have plans to launch video-on-demand and digital broadcasting services."
Simon Weedon, telecoms analyst at Deutsche Bank, said: "There are several ADSL trials going on throughout the UK but Kingston is the only company actually providing a service. It would be a pity if the development and extension of this were halted because of lack of investment."
- More ADSL news, p32
BT FACES LOCAL LOOP RULING
BT will face the DTI and Oftel this week to decide whether it should give firms access to its local loop. ADSL firms need local loop access to homes and businesses to offer their services. But BT is believed to be wary of ADSL as it might threaten its other services. If it is forced to open its local loop to third parties, technologies like ADSL could become mainstream.
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