RealTime IT News

BT Will Launch U.K. ADSL Service in July

BT announced a July starting date Wednesday for BTopenworld, its forthcoming broadband service that will provide high-speed, always-on access to the Internet for both businesses and consumers.

BT said its consumer service will cost just £39.99 ($64) a month. It will be backed with a mass-market broadband portal, created in conjunction with BT's content partners.

Over 50 content deals have been struck in the last three months, said BT -- and there are many more in the pipeline. Four major computer firms, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Intel, have agreed to pre-install BTopenworld on new PCs.

BTopenworld has already begun taking pre-orders for the new service.

Early in 2001, BT plans to extend BTopenworld to provide users with what it calls a Personal openworld Portal (PoP), accessible from WAP mobile phones, multi-phones, PCs and TV.

Ben Andradi, chief operating officer of BTopenworld, said the advent of broadband and mobile is creating a second Internet wave that is faster, more cost-effective and compelling than the first.

"Research shows that a broadband customer will stay online four times as long as a narrowband customer and spend nearly three times as much on e-commerce," said Andradi.

BTopenworld will be based on asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology, and at its launch will consist of two high speed products, one for consumers and another for small businesses. Each will have its own portal carrying information, education and entertainment.

Lined up for consumer content are such providers as eBay, Loot and QXL.com for auctions, UK-invest, Reuters, and Screentrade for finance, and Amadeus, Landmark, OTC, Pearson and Thomas Cook.com for travel.

Lined up for business content are Desktop Lawyer for legal information, Silicon News, ZDNet and VNUNet for IT information, and Kogan Page and Prestel Online for finance.

Currently, 26 per cent of the population in the U.K. are within range of BT's ADSL network which reaches 400 exchanges. BT says one in three U.K. households and businesses will be within range by mid-year.

At the July launch BTopenworld will be offered in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Edinburgh and 20 other cities.

Initially, the service will operate at 512Kbps (256Kbps upstream). At the end of the summer, customers will be able to upgrade to a higher speed, with 1 or 2Mbps Ethernet connections.

BT will sell a full range of packages tailored to different market sectors, including a local area network (LAN) product and a teleworker package.