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BT's trial to bring ADSL to areas of low demand is now up and running in four out of the eight trial sites, the monster telco confirmed today.

In Scotland, two small exchanges – Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness, and Muir of Ord – each have 16 punters connected to broadband. In Wales, 18 customers are also connected at two exchanges in Corwen and Penrhyndeudraeth. The remaining four sites in the trial will go live over the next two months.

The "Community Broadband Concept", trial, as it's known, adopts new technology and a fresh business approach in a bid to deliver ADSL to areas where it is currently deemed not commercially viable to upgrade an exchange.

The trials use new broadband ADSL exchange equipment that can serve as few as 16 end users per exchange, making it ideal for areas where demand is limited.

The six-month pilot involves a sponsoring body (such as a development agency for example) forking out £7,000 towards the cost of the trial. Those taking part in the trial only have the choice of a single ISP.

At the moment it is still too early to say whether the trial will prove successful enough to be rolled out as a full commercial product next year. But BT Wholesale chief exec Paul Reynolds said the telco is "determined to bring broadband to as many rural areas as possible".

BT is coughing up £1m to help fund the trial, while equipment manufacturers Alcatel, ECI Telecom and Fujitsu are also donating new, smaller-scale equipment. ®

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