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UK's first WiMax network rolls out

Trials are set to begin in January to test the WiMax network, which will be located in Kent

The garden of England, Kent, is to see the installation of UK's first WiMax network.

Trials will begin in January 2005 with a commercial launch of business and residential customers expected before the middle of the year.

Networking company Telabria is building the WiMax backhaul, intended to support its Wi-Fi hot spots, based on the 802.16 standard. Once the network is live, it will replace the satellite backhaul the company has set up to supply broadband to rural customers.

Jim Baker, Telabria's CEO, said WiMax "will fundamentally change the structure of broadband networks" in the next few years and described it as "a revolutionary standard".

A recent report by research company Heavy Reading, WiMax Reality Check, predicts that the use of WiMax to support Wi-Fi in rural areas will be the dominant application for the technology initially, but it may go on to support mobile services and threaten 3G before 2010.

Telabria already has already put its footprint in Kent's wireless soil by putting Wi-Fi hot spots into Kent's Shepherd Neame-owned pubs to try and push up rural usage of broadband.