NTL has become the first major UK ISP to breakthrough the 8Mbps barrier by offering 10Mbps as its standard broadband speed.
All the cable operator's 1.5 million customers will be offered a free upgrade with no additional monthly fee, beginning with its current 3Mbps subscribers. Users will also be able to choose a usage allowance, priced accordingly, to match their requirements, with a tool provided to monitor usage; an uncapped option will be provided.
The first upgrades will take place before the end of the year. As a bonus 3Mbps subscribers will also see their usage limit raised from 30GB to 75GB per month. All upgrades will be completed by the end of 2006, by which time NTL may have begun the process of merging with the UK's other cable operator, Telewest.
Our broadband services will become amongst the most innovative in the world and certainly well ahead of anything else in the UK,' said Simon Duffy, NTL's CEO. 'This is a major step towards delivering Britain's digital future.'
NTL believes that the faster connections will speed the evolution of the connected home as well as promoting the take up of content-based online services, such as video-on-demand, videoconferencing, online gaming, IP telephony and HDTV.
While the 10Mbps implementation takes place, NTL is set to begin a commercial pilot of its flexible bandwidth technology. This gives users a 'Turbo Button' to boost their speed, to make a particular task quicker.
Beyond 10Mbps, the company is looking to provide services based on DOCSIS 3.0 over cable and ADSL 2+ over copper technologies, with speeds in excess of 30Mbps. Moving to a single 10Mbps speed, it says, will make future increases easier and quicker to deliver. A trial currently underway in Chorleywood is already delivering speeds of up to 20Mbps.
'Moving 1.5 million customers to a connection of up to 10Mb is a major initiative. However, we have full confidence in our ability to complete this programme in 2006 by leveraging our next generation platform,' Duffy said.