Two days after I wrote my blog entitled "8Mb Broadband - only a mirage", BT Wholesale announced that it is upgrading its network to 8Mbps; more than 5300 exchanges have been updated. Interestingly, BT also released some estimates and numbers - 78% of phone lines will reach 4Mbps or more, 42% above 6Mbps and probably less than 10% touching the 8Mbps maximum - leaving only 0.4% of households broadband-less.
The new BT ADSL Max and ADSL Max Premium will not be rolled out automatically to all users though, individual ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will offer the upgrades (free or for a fee) to their customers. As ADSLguide mentions here, the most significant difference is that the updated exchanges will be rated adaptive, that is they will be running at the highest speed they can both upstream and downstream.
This, ADSLguide says, means that the large majority of lines will go faster, much faster in some cases although that depends on whether your ISP is using its own network or BT's. That's the last major network upgrade for BT before moving on to 21 Century Network that will be launched in the next two years.
Whether boosting the lines to 8Mb will be enough to cater for the double digits that the rest of the competition is promising is something else that I would not bet on. NTL, the cable giant, is trialing a 100Mbps service, newcomer Be, has already launched a 24Mbps service and even Bulldog Broadband has ADSL2+ waiting to be launched. And clearly, the current landlines cannot cope with anything speedier. It is definitely time to move on to something else.