Be Broadband is introducing a new way of boosting the ADSL speeds it offers, known as line bonding. Simply put, it involves doubling everything up, so you have two phone lines, two ADSL subscriptions and a special router that splices the lines together. The end result -- in theory -- is twice as much data down your fat pipe.
It's really the router that makes this proposition complicated, because it's not quite as simple as lobbing two lots of ADSL into your house and hoping for the best. The solution is transparent to the end user, though. In cases where one line syncs slower than the other, we're told the faster line will be throttled to the speed of the slower.
ADSL speeds have stalled in recent years, with cable outstripping it. ADSL2+ brought us a massive
jump from 8Mbps to 24Mbps (or, as most ISPs offer, 20Mbps). But that's
it. Because ADSL speeds are affected by your distance from the
exchange, the only way to get faster ADSL is to move the exchange
closer to your house -- which BT frowns upon -- or to run fibre to your
road, and then use VDSL to move data from your phone line to that
optical link. BT is slowly rolling this system out, but it'll be years
before it's practical for most people.
If you have Be at the moment, bonding should double your speed. So 24Mbps will become 48Mbps and the 1.5Mbps upstream becomes 3Mbps (or 5Mbps if you're on the 2.5Mbps-upstream Be Pro). Be also points out that line bonding means greater resilience on your broadband, so if there's a problem with one line, you should be able to use the other.
Consumer broadband site ThinkBroadband is reporting that the cost for a bonding install will be £85 with Be, with rental being offered on a trial basis at around £55 a month. So it's hardly a low-cost offering, with setup costing around £210 in total. If you don't currently have a BT line, the company will charge you for two installs to put two phone lines into your house, so that adds another £125 and takes setup to £335. You will have to pay two lots of BT line rental each month at £22 or so, taking your monthly total up to £77.
The service will be available from February to existing Be Pro customers only, to start with. We love the idea of bonding, but we just aren't sure we can afford the reality of it at the moment. Especially with Virgin offering 50Mbps for around £40 a month with much lower install costs than BT, we can't see them looking too terrified at this ADSL offering.
Photo credit: William Hook via Flickr CC licence.