People living up to and beyond 10km from local telephone exchanges may be able to get broadband if trials run by BT are successful.
Beginning on 1 June in Milton Keynes, BT will attempt to extend ADSL coverage to areas that the technology has not been able to reach before.
ADSL coverage has been limited to around 6km from exchanges because the technology has not - until now - been considered robust enough for longer distances.
BT said no additional technologies were being used because its research indicates that it is possible to get a 500Kbps ADSL service further than 6km.
Milton Keynes was chosen for the trial because it has the highest percentage of people in a UK city or town living just beyond the 6km boundaries of local exchanges.
But the telco also hopes to extend the trial to include a remote rural area to see if ADSL can be pushed to 10km.
Users will be asked to log the quality of service they receive so that BT can ascertain if the infrastructure can support broadband services.
Internet service providers are being invited to take part in the trials which, if successful, could enable BT to roll out ADSL to a million more users throughout the UK and push coverage from 96 per cent of homes and businesses to over 99 per cent.
"We estimate this would only leave around half a million people unable to get fixed ADSL coverage," said a BT spokesman.
But the telco warned that not all lines would work and that problems could be experienced as the range extends. It said the wide range of lines tested would allow it to know if a reliable broadband service could be delivered to many more people.
Alison Ritchie, BT chief broadband officer, said in a statement: "BT's drive to increase availability of broadband has many fronts and this latest development shows we haven't stopped pushing the boundaries."
If the trials are successful, BT Wholesale intends to launch longer-reach broadband services later this year. People with 01908 numbers in the Milton Keynes area who are interested in being involved in the trial can register here.
- NTL has increased the price of its 1Mbps broadband Internet access service by £3, to £37.99 per month. Prices for 150Kbps and 600Kbps services remain the same.
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