The broadband business Bulldog Communications kicked off a price war for high-speed internet access yesterday by launching an even faster product for consumers at a similar price to current broadband packages.
The London-based company is offering a 1Mbps service at £27.99 - roughly the same price as current broadband services which run at speeds of 512kbps - before VAT.
Bulldog already provides a 1Mbps service, which is now on offer for a month only at £24.99 a month, although that particular product is not available nationally and is accessible to about 8 million households, mainly in major City centres.
Richard Greco, Bulldog's chief executive, said a new wholesale product launch from BT had enabled the company to launch the 1Mbps service on a national basis.
BT is, however, said to have started trialling the new product, which is resold to other service providers, only just over a week ago and while the trial is said to be going well, it is due to last six to eight weeks in total.
That has led some in the industry to the conclusion that Bulldog has jumped the gun. "They [Bulldog] are launching on the basis that the [BT] trial will be successful," said one source.
About 50 service providers, including BT's own retail arm, are involved in the BT trial. The telecoms giant is also likely to eventually launch its own faster broadband package.
Mr Greco said Bulldog's new service was launched yesterday but admitted it "was part of a trial service" that BT was running. "We're launching it during the trial period - which typically lasts 60 days," he said.
"We're being pretty aggressive in terms of pricing. What we're trying to do is drive higher speeds but maintain value for money."
Bulldog's new broadband service was particularly suited to consumers who wanted "more speed without more spend", he said. "It's also highly attractive for first-time broadband users that want to experience the full potential of high-speed internet access - whether it's for flexible working or serious online gaming."
The privately owned Bulldog, which employs about 60 staff, still has a very small share of the UK broadband market. Mr Greco said the company had "well over 5,000" customers.
There are currently just over 2 million broadband internet customers in the UK. BT has about 1.25 million users and over 50 per cent use its own products. The balance are connected on BT lines through about 130 other internet service providers such as AOL and Freeserve.
Last week the Italian service provider Tiscali unveiled a cheaper but slower high-speed internet package.Reuse content