Wireless broadband firm takes aim at BT

A new player has joined the battle to create Broadband Britain, with a high-speed wireless service using the 3.4GHz band now available in some areas

Pacific Century Cyberworks has finally launched the first phase of the rollout of a high-speed wireless-broadband service that could eventually challenge BT, NTL and Telewest.

As reported back in March, the service is called Netvigator and will be offered by a PCCW subsidiary called UK Broadband. It is initially available in the Thames Valley region of England, which includes Aldershot, Maidenhead, Reading, Slough, Windsor, and Wokingham. There is still no indication, however, of when there will be a national rollout.

Netvigator uses the 3.4GHz band of the radio spectrum, which UK Broadband won control of in a recent government auction of the frequency.

Two broadband services are available. A 512kbps service will cost £18 per month, and a 1Mbps service will cost £28. Customers will have to agree to a minimum contract of one year.

Surprisingly, customers will not need to bolt an aerial to the side of their house in order to get the service. All they need is the wireless broadband modem, which UK Broadband will supply, and which can be plugged into a PC using either USB or Ethernet.

"As long as you're in a coverage area, you can use the service in any room in your house," a UK Broadband spokeswoman said on Thursday, at a launch of the service in Reading.

PCCW senior executives have already indicated that they are targeting BT with Netvigator. BT is moving towards near-universal coverage with its ADSL service, but UK Broadband is confident that its service will still appeal to the market.

"For some people, this is the only option because they can't get broadband in their area. For others, it's a better option," said the UK Broadband spokeswoman.

UK Broadband is also planning to launch services aimed at small businesses in the future. Its existing products could still appeal to the small enterprise market as there's no limit to the number of PCs that can be connected to the services via a LAN.

Further details about Netvigator can be found here.