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One hundred rural communities in Europe are to get broadband for free as part of a project part-funded by the European Commission (EC).

European satellite outfit EADS Astrium is leading the TWISTER (which stands for Terrestrial Wireless Infrastructure integrated with Satellite Telecommunications for E-Rural) project.

TWISTER is part of the Commission's efforts to bridge the digital divide in Europe. It has a total budget of €8.5m, of which €5m is funded by the EC.

So far, 30 - 40 areas have been earmarked for broadband. The service is delivered through two-way satellite access for the backhaul, while those within each community are connected by Wi-Fi.

Other communities should be identified within the next three months with all 100 connected by the end of the year.

TWISTER kicked off at the beginning of the month and expects to install wireless broadband services in a number of European countries including Spain, France, Sweden, Poland, Greece and Malta.

Philippe Bodart, chief exec of satellite outfit Aramiska, one of twelve companies in the TWISTER consortium, told The Register that sites in the UK and Ireland have yet to be identified.

However, those rural communities taking part in the project can expect to receive free broadband for 18 months or so. After that, the consortium hopes that the services can be run on a commercial basis, delivering broadband at prices in sync with ADSL-based services. ®

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