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BT Wholesale is to start trialling a cheaper high-speed Internet service using satellite technology.

The new service downloads data at speeds up to 256kbits with a return path provided by a conventional phone line.

While not true broadband, the service should provide a faster alternative for those people unable to hook up to ADSL.

The satellite high-speed Internet access trial starts in late May and is expected to last for six months.

BT has yet to decide which ISPs will take part in the trial but it's understood that those prepared to market it in non ADSL-enabled areas will be favoured.

BT has also declined to say which outfit is partnering the service.

The trial wholesale price is likely to be less than £15 a month although it will be up to service providers to set the final monthly subscription.

Hardware and installation is expected to be less than £400.

BT Wholesale said that users would be able to pay more for increased speed - up to 4Mbit/s - if they needed to download larger amounts of data.

Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, said: "This is an exciting development…it is not true broadband, but it will give much faster internet access to many people who could otherwise be denied."

BT also provides a two-way broadband satellite service but that costs a bomb compared to bog-standard ADSL. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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