Cheaper broadband for business is on its way and is easy to achieve, according to industry experts at a broadband seminar yesterday.

At the central London forum, hosted by broadband hardware vendor Net to Net Technologies, Dave Mullender, director of Newbury-based business ISP altohiway, said ISPs would fall into two main camps.

Large ISPs will continue to attack the mass market, smaller ones will remain business-focused and will increasingly be able to offer broadband using business-focused SDSL (symmetric DSL). Businesses will be able to cut the cost of leased lines by a factor of ten, he reckoned, because of the UK-only solution based on BT's EPS9 circuits.

A little-known and entirely unmarketed BT service, EPS9 lines are engineering grade analogue lines at either end of which an ISP can attach SDSL modems, resulting, according to Mullender, in a 2Mbit/sec solution that could cost £410 annually. "BT don't specify that you can run 2Mbit SDSL but in practice you can, as BT engineers it to the same spec as leased lines", he added.

Net to Net's EMEA MD Keith Hoult added, "One of the best-kept secrets in telecommunications is that it is possible to install and run and broadband DSL connection at a fraction of the cost of the leased line equivalent. All you need are dry copper lines within distance and suitable DSL hardware." It should be pointed out however, that two points connected by EPS9 should be on the same exchange.

More generally, the experts were upbeat about the future of broadband Britain, citing as an example of the British 'can-do' spirit, the explosion in self-provisioning, where communities -- business and consumers -- too remote from exchanges to get ADSL have organised and built ad hoc wireless networks.