Rural wireless broadband services got the green light yesterday, as the UK's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) opened the 5.8GHz Band C spectrum to telecoms service providers and other community users. Low-cost licences will be available from the spanking-new über-regulator Ofcom from February, and users can apply from January 5.

"We are working on a number of planned projects in the new year with the new OFDM 5.8GHz equipment," said Paul Munnery, technical director of equipment provider Wireless CNP. "We believe that these projects will greatly help the rural economy."

Point-to-point wireless links on 5.8GHz could plug gaps in the ADSL coverage of the UK, connecting sites up to 10km apart and getting more places onto broadband. The licences are very cheap, as the Radiocommunications Agency had indicated, with a cost of £1 per terminal per year, and a minimum of £50 per year, so providers should be able to offer relatively cheap services.

BT Group PLC is already running trials of 5.8GHz services, in remote parts of Wales, England, Cornwall, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Details of the 5.8GHz licence scheme will be on the Ofcom Web site "in a day or two," said a spokesman there – however, Ofcom itself is getting up and running. It receives its powers from the five previous agencies (including Oftel) on December 29, and will be regulating telecoms, broadcasting and other matters for the UK thereafter. Information on 5.8GHz was not present as of December 23. On the Ofcom site, Macworld suggests searching for "8GHz", or "Band C".