ADSL2+ is a long way from being new in the UK having been on offer from a number of other providers for a few years. With the rollout of the 21st Century Network by the BT Group continuing and after a period of trials it seems BT Retail has decided to launch its ADSL2+ product for the roughly 40% of businesses and homes on an enabled exchange at this time.
While the talk is of speeds up to 20Mbps (20 Mega bits per second), as with the older up to 8Mbps products the connection speed people will see reported by their modem will vary based largely on the amount of metallic cable between their home and the telephone exchange. While the 20Meg figure is more than twice 8Meg, for the majority of people the speed increase will be less than double. For people currently only getting a connection speed of 2 to 3Meg the improvement may be very small, and for a small number you might even connect at a lower speed. It is not all about download speeds, most BT Retail customers connect at up to 448Kbps on the upstream (e.g. sending photos to an online processing site), this speed is set to double to up to 1Mbps, and the upstream is less affected by cable length than the downstream speeds so most will see a significant boost.
BT Retail is keen to emphasis that it is upgrading speed without increasing the price. This is possible for one major reason, the 21CN WBC products are cheaper to run than the older up to 8Meg products, but not by a massive margin. The cost savings will quickly be swallowed up by any increase in usage on products like BT Option 3 which is nominally unlimited (it appears to have a 100GB per month fair use ceiling). A major concern is that at peak times the public may see their modems connecting faster but actual downloads will be largely the same sort of speeds.
One issue that BT Retail is addressing is that ADSL2+ is affected more than ADSL by things like the telephone wiring in the home, hence why any publicity is keen to push the BT I-Plate which is available to BT customers for the cost of postage. A free method is of course to remove the ring wire as shown in our FAQ section.
For those reading this who want a better idea of the speeds they may manage using ADSL2+ if you can access the line connection information in your ADSL modem/router you can plug the information into a simple calculator to receive an estimate on ADSL2+ speeds. In terms of estimates, around 25% of lines should manage a connection speed of 11Mbps or faster, 42% 9.5Mbps or better, 78% 5Mbps and 93% around 2 to 2.5Mbps. Of course actual speeds when downloading (throughput speeds) will depend on things like how busy your exchange is, the backhaul, the ISP and the Internet at large and a myriad of other things.