Wanadoo offer consumers wireless, faster ADSL

Wanadoo is to offer French consumers always-on Internet access at speeds previously only offered to business customers, and will...

Wanadoo is to offer French consumers always-on Internet access at speeds previously only offered to business customers, and will offer modems with integrated wireless connections. The 1Mbps (bits per second) consumer ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) service will be available from tomorrow (15 October).

Last month, German rival T-Online announced it would offer similar services in France from the same date, under its Club Internet brand.

Wanadoo will introduce two ADSL tariffs: Extense 128k, offering downloads at up to 128kbps and uploads at up to 64kbps, for €30 (£19) a month, and Extense 1024k (1Mbps download, 128kbps upload) for €80 (£51) a month. The existing consumer tariff (512kbps download, 128kbps upload), will be renamed Extense 512k. Its price is still €45.42 (£29) a month. All prices include value-added tax.

Extense Pro, for business users, will also be maintained: it offers downloads at up to 1Mbps and uploads at up to 256kbps for a monthly fee of €110 (£70), excluding value-added tax.

T-Online's 128kbps Confort service will also cost €30 (£19) a month (€25, or £16 for the first three months), and its 1Mbps Performance service €85 (£54) a month, including free insurance and technical support. After the first year, these will cost an extra €2.50 (£1.60) a month. Both tariffs require that the user buy a modem, costing €151 (£96).

The new entry-level tariffs will soon face stiff competition: Free Telecom, also based in Paris, will introduce a service at the end of the month offering downloads at up to 512kbps for €29.99 (£19) a month.

Wanadoo's 1Mbps service is unlikely to shake the world either: Japanese consumers can already get Internet access over ADSL at nominal download speeds of 8Mbps or 12Mbps for ¥2,453 (about £13) a month or ¥2,653 (£13.70) a month respectively.

However, users are unhappy with the existing USB modems supplied, complaining that they are not exactly "plug and play".

Wanadoo will soon add an Ethernet modem, at a higher price.

Behind the scenes, Wanadoo technicians are testing ADSL modems with integrated wireless connections, one based on the IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN (WLAN) standard and one on the Bluetooth personal-area networking specification. The Bluetooth basestation-modems will be test-marketed in some shops in Paris within the next two weeks. If the trials are successful, they will be made available more widely.

Wanadoo plans to sell the WLAN-ADSL basestation to businesses for €350 (£221). The Bluetooth system, including one USB Bluetooth adaptor to connect a computer, will be offered to home users for the same price.

Bluetooth adaptors for additional computers will cost €55 (£35) each. An option combining both WLAN and Bluetooth with ADSL is also being evaluated.

Wanadoo aims to have 35% of its Internet access customers in France using broadband services next year.

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