Approximately 4 million people in the UK use ADSL with an extra 2 million using a cable connection, meaning 6 million people in the UK have an always-on internet connection. Of these over 1.7 million are subscribed to BT's broadband package, making them the UK's main broadband provider.
Back in August 2000 BT first launched its high-speed internet connection to customers. Initially only available to around one third of UK households and costing ?500 a year it was the first step in many to Broadband Britain.
There are currently only 2 ways to connect to ADSL in the UK. Recently a technique called Local Loop Unbundling means you don't need to have a BT phone line, but at the moment only 1% of people on broadband in the UK use this method. The only other way to connect transforms an existing BT phone line into a high-speed digital line. This is only available with a BT phone line though, so even if you don't subscribe to BT's package your ISP still has to pay BT money to maintain and connect your line. Because of this BT has been able to dictate the availability of broadband in the UK for a few years now.
For fear that UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom would break-up the company because they held a monopoly by owning all the phone lines and means to connect to broadband, BT has agreed to offer rival companies access to the "Local Loop", which is the network of telephone lines around the country. By doing this BT could stand to lose many customers as other companies can offer their broadband directly and without having to pay BT expenses.
Since the introduction of ADSL in the UK many potential customers found their local exchanges were simply out of date and the lines too old to be able to handle this new technology. Campaigns run country-wide as BT will only upgrade exchanges if there is adequate interest. ADSL is still not available in many villages and more rural areas of Britain but BT is vastly expanding and upgrading its network to try and cover all the country, Broadband is currently available in more than 96.6% of all UK households.
BT's standard package is 2Mbps with a 1 GB monthly download limit. This means you can only download 1 GB's worth of content, be it WebPages, music or movies, a month. This is more than enough for typical WebPages, but excessive music downloads will result in your account being suspended or limited for the rest of the month. You can upgrade your broadband to a 15 GB monthly limit for a little extra a month. BT also offers Pay As You Go dialup and unlimited dialup contracts.
BT Broadband also offers a variety of packages and upgrades designed to suit every user. You can upgrade to a gaming account to play xbox and PS2 games online, you can setup parental filters for your children, and there's protection against spam, junk mail, pop-ups, virus's and online intruders.
One of the main reasons people will continue to signup to BT is its reliability. They have broken the mould of all ISPs having poor customer service and are incredibly helpful with setting up your connection.
BT are aiming to trail their 8Mbps connection soon, intending it to be in common use by the end of the year. BT's ultimate goal is making broadband available throughout the country, including rural areas.
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Neil Shevlin is the owner of UK Cheap Broadband which is a great place to find broadband links, resources and articles.
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