NTL has confirmed it will begin a free trial of its wireless broadband service in the next few weeks.

"This is a proof-of-concept trial. Because of that, there is no guarantee that this will become a commercial product," said NTL spokesman Malcolm Padley.

The trial will be limited to four transmitters running the network at a frequency of 10Gbits, Padley said. NTL expects data-transfer rates of 512Kbps (bits per second) downstream and 128Kbps upstream, which is similar to the ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) rates that UK residents currently receive. The trial service is available only to residential customers, but if successful, the service could be rolled up across Europe.

NTL currently has 2,300 mobile phone transmitting towers across the UK, from which such wireless broadband services could possibly be run, Padley revealed.

"If this were to become a service, it would be aimed at both the business and residential consumer. It wouldn't happen any time soon, but I do want to stress that we are a company that is very much focused on broadband as a technology," he said.

A total of 1,000 residential customers in the London areas of Gunnersbury, Wandsworth, Guy's Hospital, Shooter's Hill and Croydon will be given the equipment and hooked-up to the wireless broadband network for free. In exchange, the participants are required to give regular feedback to NTL on the service, Padley confirmed. The trial period ends in December.