AT&T will begin offering satellite-based broadband service this month in select rural areas of the United States.

Chief Executive Officer Edward Whitacre said in a speech in Detroit Monday that the service in areas not currently served by landline broadband would help AT&T evaluate technology that could later bring satellite broadband to its entire U.S. service area.

Whitacre said the project was one of three components to an overall broadband expansion. The other two parts of the plan were expansion of WiMax service in Texas and Nevada and making AT&T's Project Lightspeed video service available in 41 markets within three years.

"By rapidly deploying these new broadband technologies and aggressively rolling out new services, we're ... making broadband and competitive video programming services accessible to many customers who have had limited access to broadband," Whitacre told the Detroit Economic Club.

AT&T is the largest DSL broadband provider in the United States with 7.4 million lines in service, the company said in a news release.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International