BT Wholesale in conjunction with the service providers has been testing an up to 8Mbps ADSL service for what seems forever. Today sees BT Wholesale announce the product. Up till now we have referred to the products as BT Home Max and BT Office Max, BT Wholesale has now altered the names to BT ADSL Max and BT ADSL Max Premium. The 'premium' tag referring to the provision of an up to 832kbps upstream. Full BT press release is on www.btplc.com.
From 31st March 2006 the product will go live on a national basis, rather than the limited number of exchanges at present (as of 1st March, this was just 76 exchanges). The service should be available on around 5300 exchanges, which will cover around 99.6% of homes and businesses in the UK. The key component to the Max services is that they are rate adaptive (i.e. will run at the highest speed they can) in both the downstream and upstream directions, which should see the vast majority of lines running a lot faster than under the existing planning rules used by BT Wholesale.
The potential range of line speeds are 160kbps (kilo bits per second) to 8192kbps downstream, the upstream ranging from 160kbps to 448kbps on Max, and 832kbps on Max Premium. BT in its press release has provided some estimates for how many people will get various speeds, 78% of BT lines are expected to manage 4Mbps or faster, 6Mbps to around 42%. It should be pointed out that even if you get the full 8192kbps, this is actually 3.6 times faster than an existing 2Mbps line. This is because a 2Mbps line runs at 2272kbps so that with the network overheads people will see close to 2Mbps under ideal conditions, so an 8192kbps line speed will provide around 7.1 to 7.3Mbps of potential data speed.
BT Wholesale is NOT going to carry out automatic upgrades of lines, this is down to your individual service provider, and at this time BT Wholesale is warning that it may take several months to regrade all the expected lines that providers will want switched. The existing Home 250/500/1000/2000 and corresponding Office products will continue to exist, and will still have the same planning rules applied, i.e. 2Mbps only on lines with under 43dB downstream attenuation, and 60dB for 1Mbps.
Over the next few days and weeks we will endeavour to update our sites various FAQ's and where questions are repeatedly asked we will add new subjects. One misconception worth clearing up, running on an 8Mbps line is not going to make a difference to gamers during game play, the extra upstream may make things smoother if using audio/video streaming during game play, but general gaming is latency rather than bandwidth limited, and the latency will remain pretty much the same. There is one exception and it is one gamers want to avoid, and that is the interleave option, which is a more robust form of error correction on the ADSL line and at the expense of 20 to 40ms of latency, the advantage being the line will run faster and more reliably. Interleave is an option the service providers will have the ability to enable and disable.
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