BT is pushing forward with its plans to create a cable-free broadband Britain, announcing yesterday that it has installed 80 public wireless LAN (local area network) 'hotspots', as an alternative to 3G (third generation) networks.

The telco giant has set up deals with BAA (the British Airport Authority), Hilton hotels and Welcome Break service stations to install the public hotspots in four airports, including Gatwick and Heathrow, as well as 27 motorway services sites throughout the country.

BT plans to have 400 hotspots set up by the summer and 4,000 by June 05.

"Wi-fi is going to develop dramatically this year. It is half the price of 3G and three times faster," said Pierre Danon, BT Retail's chief executive officer. "It only costs 10p a minute for broadband access at BT Openzone, which is an impressive figure when you look at the fact that 3G operators will be charging a lot more."

But Wi-Fi still isn't exactly cheap. A month's unlimited access costs £85 or you can pay £15 for 24 hours access. BT is, however, offering a 50 percent discount on the service until March 03.

Wi-Fi hotspots enable people to plug their laptops or mobile handsets into sockets which use radio waves to connect to broadband services.

"[The] announcement demonstrates that BT is delivering the widespread network of UK public wireless LAN access to points that we promised," added Danon.

BT has also set up an agreement with European TeliaSonera allowing those who travel further afield to take advantage of points in Sweden, France, Denmark and the US.