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With the rollout of BT's new network imminent, it has been suggested that prices will have to fall for businesses to benefit.

The 21st Century Network (21CN), which promises speeds of up to 24Mbps using ADSL2+ technology, will be available to internet service providers (ISPs) using BT's Wholesale exchanges from next week.

Computer Weekly reports that while the services will be prioritised to cover congested areas such as London and Manchester, many small businesses may find themselves unable to benefit because of pricing issues.

Ian Fogg, senior broadband analyst at Jupiter Research, told the publication that unless BT Wholesale offers the new services at speeds comparable to older 8Mbps connections, many ISPs may be reluctant to offer 21CN connectivity to their customers.

"How the wholesale price of [21CN] services compares against old ones will determine how fast ISPs make it available and in turn how affordable it will be for small businesses," Mr Fogg explains.

BT expects a nationwide deployment of 21CN services to be completed by the end of the decade.

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