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Lincolnshire-based WRBB this week announced a wireless rural broadband service, with plans to launch a pay-as-you go, subscription-based service by the start of July.

WRBB's Sunshine is based on readily available WiFi technology, but uses a different business model to the crop of similar schemes which have sprung up lately. Instead of charging by speed of connection, WRBB's Sunshine tariffs are to be determined by data throughput.

The cheapest subscription package starts at £10 a month for a domestic user, and is suitable for email and light web surfing.

David Action, WRBB's sales and marketing director, said this tariff offers around 10GB per month, with two more expensive tariffs capped at higher amounts. Packages targeted at business users will also be available in three different bands.

The company says its services are comparable in costs to most existing broadband and cable services.

According to Acton, it is "fairer" to charge by data use rather than by bandwidth rates, which is the pricing model adopted by the rest of the UK's small band of rural wireless broadband service providers.

Users can choose a subscription-based or a pay-as-you go plan.

Subscription plans work like many mobile phone service plans, with unused data rolled over into the following month, and additional data over the inclusive amount charged for separately.

The minimum contract term will be one month with no set-up fees. However customers will need to buy a wireless card (cost £50-£60). Depending on location users might also need antennae (costing around £15).

Tens of users - rather the hundreds as with ADSL-enabling exchanges - are needed to reach the "critical mass" required to launch services in a particular area.

Initially, Sunshine will focus on delivering high-speed Net connectivity to businesses and consumers in rural/suburban areas where BT is yet to ADSL-enable local telephone exchange. But it is also targeting potential customers whose bandwidth needs can't be met by available ADSL services. WRBB also wants to sell leased-line services (costing perhaps £400-£500 to set up) in competition with BT.

Sunshine will offer service level agreements and quality of service guarantees.

Trials brgin next month and the service should go live in July.

Coverage will begin in the Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and Stamford, Lincolnshire, areas but the WRBB plans to launch a national service within 18 months. ®

External Links

Sunshine from WRBB

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Wireless broadband trial brings hope for rural users
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UK gov rules stall rural broadband scheme

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