According to reports in the press last weekend BT is planning to offer free broadband to all its customers – currently 20m – when their £10bn 21st Century Network (21CN) project is switched on. This was originally scheduled for 2009, but will now probably be a year earlier, according to a senior company source.
‘The 21CN system will give customers broadband dial tone – meaning broadband will be available just by plugging a computer in as part of basic line rental,’ a spokesman said.
Additional services, including the possibility of buying extra-fast download speeds for as little as a day at a time, will be possible. ‘With the new network, there is no need to install boxes or send engineers,’ the spokesman said.
The company is trying to decide whether it should also make its video-on-demand service, set for launch this summer, available to non-BT customers.
Crucial to the scheme is rapid progress in development of the new network. BT has only awarded half the contracts for building the system but says the signing of contracts is ‘imminent’. The company will probably operate the old network in parallel with the new system to ease the transition.
Somehow Comms Business Magazine thinks the press may have got this one wrong and there were immediate signs yesterday that the Telco was distancing itself from the ‘free broadband’ concept.