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Locals in three pubs in Kent are celebrating after their wireless broadband scheme netted a local business award.

Kent-based firm Telabria - which used the pubs as the "hub" of its RuralMesh wireless broadband project - won the technology award for demonstrating the best use of IT in Kent's annual Business Awards.

The judges commended the company for an initiative that brings wireless broadband technology to rural communities via village pubs. In December 2003, Telabria fitted the pubs - The Chequers in Doddington, the New Flying Horse in Wye and the Plough & Harrow in Bridge - with a two-way satellite Internet connection and a chimney-mounted antenna.

Local residents and businesses were then able to hook up to the wireless network using a node that communicates directly with the hub, or in this case, the pub. The service costs £30 a month for unlimited broadband Net access.

The RuralMesh scheme was developed by Telabria as a "cost-effective community broadband network project" designed for areas not served by cable or ADSL broadband.

Nine out of ten UK homes and businesses can now get DSL broadband, according to BT. By next summer, 99.6 per cent of the UK should be able to hook up ADSL, according to BT.

Last month, UK Broadband - the wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong telecoms giant PCCW - launched its wireless broadband service in the UK. Costing from £18 a month, the Netvigator service is being made available in the Thames Valley first before being rolled out to other parts of the country. ®

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