UK Online joins 24Mbps ADSL+ rollout

UK Online has become the second ISP to announce the imminent availability of an ADSL+ service in the UK.

Less than a year ago the ISP was the first to begin offering maxed-out ASDL at 8Mbps when most were still stuck at 512Kbps. Since then 2Mbps has become the norm and 18Mbps (24Mbps theoretical max) reflects the transformation of the market in 2005, due in a large part to the growth of LLU-based services.

Indeed it is LLU operator Easynet that is supplying the ADSL2+ infrastructure that UK Online has been testing since March. The service will launch in October at less than £30 per month.

Meanwhile Be has announced that its very first ADSL+ customer is online. Stefan in Clerkenwell is enjoying a UK record 18.5Mbps connection. Be is currently offering trial subscriptions prior to a full launch at the end of September.

The fastest ADSL2+ speeds, those in excess of 18Mbps, are only achievable within 2km of the exchange.

The technology provides double the bandwidth of ADSL but is also capable of using higher frequencies on shorter loops (the loop being the connection from exchange to user and back to the exchange) to provide the very high bit rates that are being advertised and achieved.

However, there is a sharp drop-off in performance once you get to 3km and further from the exchange, after which it is roughly the same as standard ADSL. In fact only those users who can currently get 2Mbps will be able to get the fast ADSL2+ speeds, potentially widening the ‘digital divide’.

Bulldog is expected to be the third ISP to begin offering ADSL2+ services, though it may first have to deal with an investigation by the industry regulator. Ofcom is currently considering whether to begin an inquiry after receiving ‘hundreds’ of complaints from Bulldog customers. Bulldog has acknowledged that there have been some problems and although it places much of the blame on BT (some of which it accepted) for delaying LLU connections says that it has addressed the issues raised by the complainants.

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