Freeserve will launch a high-speed access trial over British Telecom's (BT) ADSL platform in Manchester and London

Participants in the ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) trial from the ISP (Internet service provider) will have a permanent connection to the Internet of up to 512Kbps. This will enable them to transfer data at speeds of up to 10 to 20 times faster than over a conventional dial-up modem.

Freeserve has been allocated 150 ADSL lines in west London and greater Manchester, according to Freeserve spokesman Stephen Pang. "We expect the trial to end around May, and we'll be looking to the major cities by this summer," Pang said.

Users will pay a monthly subscription charge of £49.99 per month, including taxes and installation. In addition to the subscription charge, conventional dial-up access to the free ISP requires only that the user pay standard UK call rates, which range between 1p and 4p per minute, depending on the time of day.

Freeserve, which had 1.7 million users as of January 2, first announced its intention to trial ADSL in September, just two months after BT announced availability of the service for 2000. The company has also announced plans to work with 20 content providers to deliver a range of new services to its ADSL customers, including enhanced video and audio.

Freeserve's service includes 24-hour access to ITN radio, video promotions and Webcasts from Virgin Group, and the ability to download software directly from the Web sites of UK retail stores Jakarta and PC World.

Freeserve originally planned to roll out a trial of its service in November, but was able to launch ahead of schedule.