Sea Change

After mentioning broadband earlier this week it looks like some exciting developments will start to move fast internet access forward in the UK. ADSL has been for many the only way to get broadband access, and has always looked a slightly poorer cousin compared to cable. NTL but more so Telewest have always offered faster download speeds for a comparable if not cheaper price than ADSL providers. Indeed Telewest now offer 4Meg downloads with NTL offering 3Meg.

However Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) is now starting to happen across the country and not just in London and the South East. UK Online and Bulldog are offering ADSL speeds of up to 8Meg with an increased upload of 400k. BT has also announced they will be trialling 8Meg download speeds from April this year and also testing ADSL2+ this year which can see broadband speeds go up to 18Meg (depending on line length from exchange). All this is great news but the pricing structure of broadband will have to change radically to support these speed increases.

This is where (I think) Max DSL comes in. From April BT will launch Max DSL which allows ISP’s to set your download speed to the maximum available on your line. Initially this will be to 2Meg but hopefully by year end it will be whatever your line can take up to 8Meg. This is great for the customer as it can be done transparently by the ISP but how will the price of your connection change? I think most ISP’s will move to a pricing structure that gives you bandwidth rather than speed. So £20 gives you 50Gig per month, £25 70Gig and so on. This will allow then to charge the heavy users who use up bandwidth the most money and likewise charge less for the smaller users who only use a few gigabytes per month. Most of the big ADSL providers have been introducing download caps and indeed NTL will be doing likewise for their broadband users. This is all well and good as long as the ISP provide clear guidelines and allow users to track their usage which is something my provider, Plus Net, has done since day one.

Indeed Plus Net is seemingly going to make an announcement next week on their future pricing structure for premier account holders. I’m hoping it will include details on upgrades, their fair usage policy and also future plans for the year ahead but it may just detail price and speed changes. I’ll just need to wait and see but finally the UK market is starting to catch up with the rest of Europe…but not the Swedes who can get 100MBit/s for 54 US dollars a month. Drool.

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