Reaching parts of the country other forms of DSL can'tA longer-range broadband product being developed by BT will be just as fast as its existing consumer ADSL service, contrary to earlier suggestions from the telco. This 'extended reach' ADSL is being trialled by just 10 people, but a larger trial is expected to begin in late March. By increasing the distance over which ADSL will work, BT hopes to reduce the number of households that cannot get broadband - even though their local exchange has been upgraded - because they live too far away from the exchange. Up to six per cent of households in ADSL-enabled areas suffer from this problem. Technical limitations mean that today's 512Kbps ADSL won't work properly if the line loss on a telephone line is greater than 55dB - equivalent to a line length of about 5.5km. According to BT, this 'extended reach' broadband will halve the number of households whose line quality is too poor for ADSL to work. A BT Wholesale spokesman said: "We are conducting internal trials, looking to extend the maximum line loss permitted from 55dB to 60dB. The impact of this would be to increase ADSL coverage in enabled areas from today's 94 per cent to 97 per cent." Before BT launched rate-adaptive DSL, the maximum line loss allowed was 41dB, a maximum line length of just 3.5km. BT had said last week that this forthcoming extended reach ADSL would run at 256Kbps rather than 512Kbps. However, BT has now said that this is not the case, and that it hopes to raise the maximum line loss without dropping the bandwidth. This confusion within BT seems to have arisen because BT Wholesale is also developing a 256Kbps ADSL product. This, though, is at a very early stage. According to BT, some internet service providers would like to be able to offer a cheaper and slower broadband product, so it is investigating whether such a service is commercially and technically feasible.