BT today launched a trial of smart card technology to give easy remote network access to employees working outside the office, which it claims to be the first of its kind in the UK.
The trial will begin in the first quarter of next year and involve up to 500 people using Microsoft's Windows Smart Card toolkit.
Steve Brown, BT's head of smart cards, said: "This pilot will be the first of its kind in the UK and will allow us to examine the smart cards in operation. BT intends to be a key player in smart card systems and this trial will be an important part in the development of our smart card strategy and technology."
The telecoms giant has about 30,0000 people who access the company's network and intranet using laptops and PCs whilst away from the office.
They currently use a combination of passwords and randomly generated security codes to gain access which will be replaced by a simple PIN.
Trial participants will be issued with a card reader and smart card containing a cryptographic application, and BT Trustwise certificates allowing fast and secure log on to the network.
BT said that in the future, cards could be developed to give a broader range of applications such as access to buildings, secure electronic corporate transactions, on-line banking, ecash and customer loyalty programmes.
Although BT is evaluating the trial for internal cost and efficiency savings, Brown said that BT wants to become a key player in the market partnering other companies to provide technology and solutions, "as well as being a trusted name for customers to rely on."
A spokesperson said: "Smart cards will be used for ecommerce applications that go over phone networks. We provide secure networks to allow this to develop. It is small acorns at this stage, but it will grow."
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