BT to widen 8Mbit trials from next month

BT is extending the reach of its 8Mbit broadband service next month. If successful, the trials will lead to a full roll out of an 8Mbit service across the BT network beginning in the spring of 2006.

The company says that a broad roll out of an 8Mbit downstream speed will encourage a new wave of applications for its broadband service such as interactive gaming and video and music streaming as well as the more traditional email and surfing.

The move means that the Internet in the UK is likely to become much more like a TV delivery service than is currently possible. Already the BBC has announced its plans for providing downloads of TV programmes and there are a number of start-ups looking to exploit the new capabilities by offering TV over broadband.

The results of initial technical trials of the service in London and Strathclyde have encouraged BT to provide a market trial phase. A ‘market trial’ will allow BT Wholesale and other ISPs to get a feel for the technical stability of ADSL Max lines as well as road testing their ordering, billing and support before the commercial launch next year.

This trial will cover an initial 25 exchanges, rising to 53 exchanges as the trial progresses and will include around 50,000 subscribers to begin with rising to around 150,000 by the end. The trial exchanges chosen for the next phase will be in West London, Cornwall, Strathclyde, Northern Ireland and South Glamorgan. The areas have been chosen to represent a broad range of geographic types ranging from densely populated urban areas as well as widely spread rural communities.

Cameron Rejali, BT Wholesales’ Managing Director for products and strategy said, ‘this testing is essential given BT intends to roll out services of up to 8Mb across the whole of the UK. BT is committed to ensuring that everyone benefits from the broadband revolution whether they live in valleys, villages or city centres.’

The November trials will cover the BT Wholesale, the BT Datastream service and BT IPstream service. BT Wholesale says it will shortly be approaching ISPs to take part in the test period. Volunteer subscribers will be approached by their ISP.

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