Those people outside the reach of current ADSL exchanges could soon be looking to their electricity providers for broadband services if Scottish Hydro-Electrics' latest venture takes off.

The Celtic electricity company has been trialling its broadband scheme to around 150 people in rural areas of Scotland, working in partnership with the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and Scottish Enterprise as part of the government's Broadband Britain initiative.

"The trials are going well — according to the feedback we have received customers are happy with the service," said Anthony Lowle telecoms infrastructure manager at Scottish Hydro-Electrics. "We are satisfied the kit has passed technical trials. Now we need to develop commercial trials."

Users have access to bandwidth of 2Mbps (megabits per second) — even higher in many cases — for £25 a month, although no price has yet been set for the final commercial service.

But such high-speed services usually come at a considerable cost. ISP Bulldog Communications today announced the launch of its 'premium' 3Mbps broadband service which will set users back a hefty £79.99 a month. Scottish Hydro-Electric is also considering developing tiered services, allowing people who require the highest bandwidths to pay for premium services.

Unlike ISPs, that rely on BT rolling out services, electricity companies already have connections to many of the remotest areas in the UK.

Lowle said his company has been in talks with other electricity suppliers who are interested in the scheme, but did not know whether any were going to follow Scottish Hydro-Electrics' lead.