NTL has announced plans to offer a broadband service 20 times faster than anything available in the UK today.

The faster speeds are possible because NTL will use a fibre-based network rather than BT's copper-wire network.

NTL director of policy Keith Monserrat told The Business: "Fibre can carry up to one gigabit. It will be relatively straightforward for NTL to provide speeds of at least 100 megabytes per second across its entire network. By contrast, BT's planned 21st Century network will not be able to deliver speeds above 10 megabytes."

The company is not saying when it will launch the new service, but Monserrat insists it will be "in the not too distant future".

BT's broadband vision

BT has also announced plans to deliver higher speed broadband services throughout the UK.

The telecoms giant plans to deliver higher speeds from its wholesale ADSL products to meet increasing demand for more bandwidth-hungry applications such as video. Trials are expected to begin in April 2005 with a view to launching the higher speed services nationally this autumn.

BT plans to up the speeds on lines that currently support 2Mbit/s ADSL services to offer up to 8Mbit/s speeds. In addition BT Wholesale plans to run initial trials of ADSL2+ technology to support higher speed services of up to 18Mbit/s.

BT Wholesale chief executive Paul Reynolds said: "Ultimately our 21st century network programme will deliver the speed and functionality service providers want for the future. Today’s news means we are bringing improvements on-stream more quickly to give wholesale customers the choice of the wholesale delivery mechanism they adopt for broadband."