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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Broadband to reach million more
Milton Keynes's concrete cows
The longer range service will be tested in Milton Keynes
Up to a million more people could soon get high-speed internet access in the UK as BT stretches the reach of the technology.

Previously ADSL - broadband via the telephone line - was only available within six kilometres of a broadband-enabled telephone exchange.

BT believes the range can be extended to around 10 kilometres without significantly affecting quality.

It would mean homes in remote locations can finally get broadband.

Milton Keynes leads way

"By extending reach we will bring service to many of those in the frustrating situation where their exchange is upgraded for broadband and the neighbours down the road have broadband, but they can't get it," said BT's chief broadband officer Alison Ritchie.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) services deteriorate the farther away from the exchange they are. Customers could experience outages in their service, variable speeds and even data corruption.

BT has stuck to the six kilometres limit before because of worries about the quality of service but it is hopeful that the longer range will not cause too many problems for users.

"As we have got used to deploying the technology in a widespread way we have got a feel for how far we can go with it," said a spokesman for BT Wholesale.

The longer range technology will first be tested in Milton Keynes where lack of broadband is a headache for around 18% of residents - a higher percentage than in most UK towns due to the unique geographical lay-out of the city.

Residents will be asked to keep a diary of their experiences. BT is currently looking for around 1,000 triallists and anyone with an 01908 telephone number can register to take part.

Another million

Nick Hubbard is co-ordinator of the Milton Keynes action group. He is delighted the city could soon be fully wired to broadband.

"We have hundreds of people desperate to get broadband who will be very eager to take part in the trial," he said.

"Lack of broadband because of long lines is a very hot issue here in Milton Keynes and we're very happy to be involved in this project which will not only solve some of the issues locally but for people with similar frustrations right across the country."

If the summer trial is successful the longer range service will be rolled out nationally later in the year.

BT has been criticised for not making its broadband services available to all.

Combining the longer range service with its plans to broadband-enable all its telephone exchanges, BT says all but 500,000 people in the UK will be able to get ADSL.

It is also planning to trial a 2 megabit ADSL service in the autumn. This however will not work over longer distances.

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