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BT Yahoo and BT Retail to launch 1Mbps services at last
Tuesday 13 January 2004 17:12:00 by Andrew Ferguson

BT Retail with its two retail ISP arms has finally got around to launching its Home 1000 service. At least from the details we have seen it appears that way. The two services are expected to launch on 19th January 2004, after the actual Wholesale product came out of trial on 20th November 2003.

NOTE: Do not try phoning BT to order the product until the official press releases have appeared, until that time it will not be possible to order the service. Also remember that only around 60-70% of ADSL lines are suitable quality for the 1Mbps and faster services.

The pricing is nothing to get excited about, BT Yahoo 1Mbps comes in at £40.99 a month, and BT Retail 'no frills' 1Mbps service at £38 a month. This ensures the same margins are retained over the wholesale cost of the service. One interesting point will be whether BTs competitors feel this price is too competitive in which case we may see new complaints to Ofcom, just as we saw with the Home 500. It seems BT Retail have considered the contract issue, and for existing users migrating over to the 1Mbps service, a new minimum contract of 3 months or the balance of the old contract (whichever is longer) will apply.

One sting in the tail that is either good or bad depending on your own personal views, is that an advisory 1GB per day average is now being introduced on the 1Mbps products. This brings this new range into line with the existing BT Retail 1GB/day guidance limit. The limit is not enshrined in the T&Cs at this time, but is simply in the FAQs for the product. The purpose of this will depend on your viewpoint, some will see this as the gradual creep of limits onto all the BT Retail ISP products, others will see it as good news as the blatantly heavy 5GB/day or more users will go elsewhere.

The advisory 1GB/day limit is bound to cause much shouting and screaming, but at 30GB/month this is quite a bit higher than the limits many faster ISPs in other countries allow. In fact it is likely that as the access speeds get faster we will see throughput limits introduced more and more. So long as the limits are set at a sensible level so that 99% of users can do all they want, and others have reasonable options available. The UK broadband market generally has enough competition at the retail level that users can move around, when NTL introduced their 1GB cap, the big problem for many was that they could not switch to another broadband provider, and thus vote with their feet.

One interesting thing to watch will be how the Home 1000 services are marketed. Some of the material appears to suggest it will provide more responsive online gaming. The connection latency which is all important once you get above about 0.1Mbps of bandwidth will remain the same on a Home 1000 versus a Home 500 connection. Though the downloading of game patches and new maps will be faster.

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