UK Online are today launching the UK’s first 8Mb consumer DSL service. Called Broadband 8000, it will cost £39.99 per month and is subject to a £50 setup charge.
The previous fastest consumer service in the UK was 4Mb but the vast majority of ADSL connections run at 512k, making Broadband 8000 sixteen times faster. Upload speeds remain at 400k matching higher speed services.
UK Online, who were established in 1994, aim to offer the service to 230 exchanges spread around the UK during 2005. This will covers 18% of the UK population, or 4.4m homes.
As of today, the 8Mb service is available from four exchanges; Walton-on-Thames, Surrey; Kingswood, East of Bristol; St Albans, Hertfordshire and Dinsdale in the Midlands.
Alternatives to BT’s broadband service are possible due to “Local Loop Unbundling” (LLU), where other companies place their equipment in telephone exchanges. Working with their unbundling partner EasyNet, they are planning to convert 10 exchanges a week, with the other exchanges being chosen on a demand basis. Chris Stenning told us “we encourage people to pre-register at the site”. A smart and logical move on their part and one that BT used in the earlier days of broadband when choosing the exchanges it would convert.
UK Online have wisely recognised that the broadband requirements have risen for many multi-occupancy households. As DSL users realise how much better the broadband experience is, their demand for usage increases. When a household has a number of members using the broadband connection at the same time, the currently standard 512k connection isn’t up to it.
We’re big supporters of any service that increases bandwidth to consumers. The more bandwidth available, the more willing people will be to take their video entertainment from online sources.
The real bandwidth hog is video, but as with all of these things, multi-room TVIP services will demand higher bandwidth than 8Mb per household.
Justin Fielder, CTO of UK Online told us that 8Mb is the fastest service that can offered in the UK with current regulation. Faster services, such as ADSL 2+, would require approval from UK regulator, OFCOM. ADSL 2+ uses higher frequencies, so it needs to be ensured that these would not cause interference within the network. This process is currently being undertaken by OFCOM and when complete, promises speeds of up to 18-24Mb. Fielder tell us that upgrading their customers to that, would only require a software update at the exchange and a new modem which would be shipped to the customer.