Telewest moves into home wireless

The cable company is looking to lure users onto broadband by making it easy to connect to the Internet from anywhere in their house or garden

Telewest is hoping to tempt users to make the leap to wireless broadband in the home with a new product launched on Tuesday.

The wireless blueyonder broadband self-installation pack, which includes a Netgear access point, costs £35. The access point will plug directly into the customer's cable set-top box, creating a wireless link between the set-top box and a desktop PC or laptop, using the 802.11b standard. Unlike a standard 802.11b access point, the kit only allows one device to be connected.

The cable firm believes that this wireless connectivity will appeal to customers whose PCs and televisions are in different rooms.

"We already offer a choice of access speeds with our blueyonder services, and now you can choose from a comprehensive range of installation options too. Those customers who choose a wire-free connection can look forward to even more freedom online and an end to unsightly wires," said Chad Raube, director of Internet services at Telewest Broadband, in a statement.

New users will be able to choose to go wireless instead of the standard wired pack, which costs £50 if an engineer installs it or £12.50 if self-installed.

A Telewest spokeswoman told ZDNet UK that the product is aimed at digital TV subscribers who haven't yet upgraded to broadband, rather than existing broadband customers.

"It would be a bit tricky for someone to swap out their standard cable modem to start using the wireless product -- they would have to cancel their existing subscription and set-up a new one -- but if they did, the price would be still the same £35 for the pack and then £25 a month," the Telewest spokeswoman explained.

She added that Telewest is considering also offering wireless kit based on 802.11g in the future, but believes that at present this technology is more suited to businesses than home users. 802.11g is several times faster than 802.11b, but compatible equipment is currently more expensive.

Some analysts believe that home wireless use is crucial to the future of the Wi-Fi industry. Once people get used to surfing wirelessly at high speed in their garden, for example, they're more likely to embrace the idea of taking their laptop to a coffee shop, railway station or hotel and using a wireless network there.