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BT today named four rural areas in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland as guinea pigs for a three month trial of wireless broadband.

If successful, the telco will roll out a radio broadband service to rural areas currently deemed commercially or technically unviable for ADSL installation. These include households which are more than 6km from an enabled exchange, as well as the smallest 600 exchanges where demand trigger levels have not yet been set.

A wireless broadband roll-out would help BT meet the government's target of delivering broadband coverage for all by 2005, but it brings into question the future of satellite broadband, certainly for the home, and also the sundry start-ups which are building rural wireless broadband networks.

BT has selected 105 locals and businesses in
Ballingry, Fife, Scotland, Pwllheli in Wales, Porthleven in Cornwall and Campsie in Northern Ireland to participate as their Radio Broadband guinea pigs. A small diamond-shaped antenna will be fitted to the sides of their properties. This receives the signal from a BT base station. Triallists will be able to surf at speeds comparable to BT's existing ADSL service, BT says.

Now for a canned statement from Pierre Danon, BT Retail's chief executive. “BT is absolutely committed to our goal of 100 per cent broadband coverage for every UK community by 2005. We want to make broadband services available to everyone in the UK – whether they live in town centres or rural communities should be irrelevant. The benefits of broadband are extensive and we are working hard to make this target a reality." &Reg;

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