Cable service provider NTL is throwing down the gauntlet in the UK's 'I've got the fattest pipe' competition.

The New Year will witness the UK's biggest cable company cranking up the speed dial, without increasing prices, leaving rival BT Wholesale-based ADSL services looking somewhat pedestrian.

NTL's entry broadband service will be cranked up from 300kbps to 1Mbps, with prices remaining at £17.99 per month. Its new 2Mbps service will be priced at £24.99, while its top of the range 3Mbps product will cost £37.99. Prices include free installation, free cable modem and free activation.

The speed hikes will take place over the first three months of the New Year. The only catch is that existing customers will be charged a £25 "administration fee" to take advantage of the speed gains.

Serial MP3 file-hunters will be attracted by the top of the range 3Mbps, which has a monthly usage allowance 40GB. Even the company's 2Mbps service offers a usage allowance 30GB (For the same cost BT Broadband offers a just a 512Kpbs service with a mere 15GB usage allowance).

However anyone regularly sending very large attachments via email will be disappointed to learn that no announcements have been made regarding corresponding 'upload' speeds, which remain frozen at 64kbps for 1Mbps, 128kbps for 2Mbps and 256kbps for 3Mbps.