TWO Borders companies have announced plans to move into the broadband market, with both claiming their services offer more flexible and competitive terms than mainstream providers.

Utility firm Spark Energy has confirmed details of its new broadband and telephony package after revealing its intention in an interview with The Herald this summer.

It has been rebranded as Spark to reflect the broader range of services it now offers.

Selkirk-based Spark pledged to have all new customers online within 48 hours, and claimed it has become the first utility firm to offer a "one stop shop" for the tenanted property sector. Details of Spark's service emerged as a young Borders entrepreneur, Martin Tait, launched a phone and broadband company.

QB Telecom said it will offer home owners and small businesses cheaper prices than major providers, in addition to the flexibility of shorter contracts. It said customers will need to give 30 days' notice to switch supplier.

The company aims to sign up 10,000 customers in its first year and increase its customer base to more than 10 times that amount over five years.

Mr Tait, who is currently raising funds to drive business growth, said: "I believe it's time for a change and it's time for a refreshing new provider to enter the market, offer significant savings, great value for money and also provide a customer service experience where the customer is really taken care of and valued, and that's exactly what we will be doing at QB Telecom."

Mr Tait, who spent 15 months working on the QB model after being made redundant, said his plans also augur well for employment in the Borders. He pledged to keep any job opportunities created by the firm in the region.

Spark meanwhile claimed its broadband and telephony package will improve services for people in rented properties, claiming tenants lose out due to the focus placed by providers on home owners.

The company pledged to have all new customers online within 48 hours, and said its rates would be more competitive than the prices charged by mainstream providers. It said it will offer shorter contracts of six to 12 months.

Chief executive Chris Gauld said: "This is a landmark step for our company and for the rental sector across the UK. By packaging up energy, broadband and telephone we are now the first one stop shop supplier dedicated to the private rented sector and this represents just one of the innovations we intend to roll out over the coming years following our rebrand."

Mr Gauld added: "Most utility offerings do not meet the needs of the tenanted market as they fail to offer flexible contract lengths and often come with hefty cancellation fees.

"It's time to look at broadband afresh and not ignore the needs of this growing part of the market."