Broadband speed across the UK are set to jump to 8 meg if trials of BT's new "Max" service prove successful.
Beginning next month BT Wholesale is due to begin market trials in some 53 exchanges dotted around Greater London, Cornwall, Strathclyde, Northern Ireland and South Glamorgan.
"This trial phase is essential to ensure our higher speed broadband products and systems meet the reliability standards that service providers and end users expect," said BT Wholesale bod Cameron Rejali.
Once completed, all 5,300 broadband-enabled exchanges across the UK are due to be upgraded to support the increased speed. It means punters will be able to achieve download speeds of up to 8 meg depending on the quality of their line.
Currently, BT's broadband network can only support download speeds of up to 2 meg.
But critics have pointed out that that BT is way behind rivals Telewest and NTL which are already rolling out 10 meg broadband over their cable networks.
Meanwhile, operators such as Bulldog, EasyNet and "Be", who are installing their kit in BT exchanges in a process known as local loop unbundling (LLU), are providing speeds of up to 24 meg.
BT points out that these speed increases are only in densely populated urban areas which means that vast areas of the UK are unable to hook up to these faster speeds.
"We want our speed increases to be done nation-wide so as to prevent a digital divide," said a BT spokeswoman.
BT Wholesale's 8 meg service is due to be up and running by spring 2006. ®