Following a spate of complaints over delays in introducing its broadband service for retail customers, British Telecom has finally launched Openworld. This will enable internet download speeds up to ten times faster than current technology and also facilitate access to TV-quality video and films.

The new service, which will cost users nearly £500 annually, is currently available only to around 30% of UK households, although BT says its ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber lines) network - via which Openworld is available - will be rolled-out to some 70% of homes by the end of 2001.

According to Openworld president Ben Andradi, the launch presages a "dramatic change" in web usage, ending the so-called "world wide wait" and stimulating the use of rich multimedia content on the web. He refuted complaints about the long delay in implementing the service and its high cost.

Openworld’s rollout across the UK over the next eighteen months would be "one of the most aggressive in the world," claimed Andradi, and prices would begin to fall significantly once the service was adopted by 20%-30% of British internet users.

BT’s offering is not the first in the UK market: cable network Telewest already offers its Blueyonder service in southeast England, and rival network NTL is currently piloting a broadband service.

News Source: BBC Online Business News (UK)