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BT joins WiMAX standards group

Telco gives wireless tech the thumbs-up

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British Telecom yesterday announced its has joined the WiMAX Forum, the industry body promoting the would-be wireless broadband standard.

BT's interest in WiMAX is well known. The monster UK telco is currently running a trial to test the technology in Ballingry in Fife, Scotland, Pwllheli in Wales, Porthleven in England and Campsie in Northern Ireland. It hopes WiMAX will allow it to offer broadband connections to rural customers too far from ADSL-supporting digital exchanges and cable TV networks.

"WiMAX technologies have considerable potential as extensions to our broadband offerings in the UK," said Mick Reeve, BT's Group Technology Officer, in a statement. "We believe interoperability will be important in this area and we are pleased to be part of the WiMAX Forum in shaping the technologies and how they are used."

Joining BT as Forum members are fellow carriers France Telecom, Qwest, Reliance and XO. According to the organisation, service providers now make up almost a quarter of its membership.

For fixed-line telcos, WiMAX provides a way of competing with mobile networks for rural users' data needs. Some see it as a chance to bring wireless broadband to market ahead of the mass roll-out of 3G services.

Not that mobile telcos are ignoring the technology, as Vodafone's recent announcement that it would "eventually" support WiMAX through its line of data cards shows. ®

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