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When is broadband not broadband?
Monday 15 April 2002 15:09:00 by Andrew Ferguson

When BT Wholesale launch a trial of a 'always-on' satellite internet access service, that runs at 256kbps and only offers email and access to 'selected internet pages'. Paul Reynolds, chief executive of BT Wholesale, is quoted as saying "It is not true broadband, but it will give much faster internet access to many people who could otherwise be denied".

Full details of the trial can be read on BT's website here. It is worth adding that this trial is not linked to the satellite product that is currently offered by BT Openworld, the two products are very different, mainly the Wholesale product requires an earth bound upstream link, whereas BT Openworld's product works even if you have no phone line.

It appears that the 'selected internet pages' will only apply whilst the upstream internet connection is not available, i.e. the service will be capable of delivering email and serving web pages from a local 'cache' when your dialup is offline, but to send email and other interactive tasks you'll need the dialup online.

Price wise the trial is reasonable, around £15/month at Wholesale prices with hardware costing ~£400. This excludes any internet access charges to maintain the upstream side of the link. In this respect the service appears to be very similar to a lot of the Satellite Internet access services that have come and gone over the last 2 years.

It may appear more attractive to those who know their local BT exchange isnt due for DSL enabling in the near future, a lot will depend on which ISP's decide to take part in the trial and what packages they build around it.

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