Free fast internet via TV scheme on way

A GROUND-BREAKING service offering high-speed internet access for free through people's home television sets is to be trialled in Yorkshire later this year.

Silicon Valley technology firm Box Top Solutions has signed an exclusive deal with the South Yorkshire Digital Region project to trial its new set-top boxes in the county this summer.

The boxes will plug straight into TV sets and allow users to access the internet through a range of applications via Google's Android platform – currently used on many high-end mobile phones.

Designers of the "FreeBand" service say it will give more people the opportunity to access the internet by eliminating the need for a home computer and an expensive long-term broadband contract. It has not yet been confirmed whether users will need to pay for the set-top boxes or the downloadable apps themselves.

The scheme is the first real manifestation of the hi-tech innovation long promised by the publicly-funded Digital Region scheme.

Nearly 100m is being spent constructing a next-generation internet network in South Yorkshire, giving customers internet speeds of up to 40Mbs – five times faster than the current norm.

Digital Region chief executive David Carr said: "This innovation is what Digital Region is all about, and reflects why the project has been an important investment for the region. It has the potential to benefit all involved and could fundamentally change how many households get online."