The UK’s leading ISPs are jockeying for position ahead of this autumn’s broadband bonanza.

Cash-strapped NTL is hoping to trip up rival telco BT before it gets into its broadband stride by increasing the speed of its most popular broadband service from 512K to 600K as of 12 September. The cable giant is also waiving installation costs for both the 600K and 1Mbps service until 31 December.

NTL is offering both its broadband services as standalone products for the first time, no longer forcing its customers to take TV and telephone services as well. With monthly charges of £24.99, NTL is positioning its 600Kbps service as an ADSL killer, beating BT’s recently launched no frills service BT Broadband, on both speed and price.

The beleaguered cable telco, still swimming in £12bn of debt and yet to emerge from US bankruptcy protection, sees broadband as a potential life raft. According to Bill Goodland, NTL’s internet director, the company’s standalone broadband packages are designed to appeal to the six percent of homes in the UK that have abandoned a fixed phone line altogether, preferring a mobile-only option.

BT Broadband, meanwhile, has announced plans to halve its activation charge to £30 for customers ordering the service before 20 September.

In a recent poll PC Advisor readers indicated they would sooner sign up with a cable broadband provider in preference to an ADSL supplier. Cable got the thumbs up from 51.8 percent of the 2652 respondents, leaving ADSL with the wooden spoon with 48.2 percent.