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Broadband Internet access via TV cables (cud reach 100mb/sec

Broadband Internet access via TV cables could reach 100 megabits per second as early as next year--50 times faster than the average broadband speeds now offered to cable TV homes, a Finnish company said Wednesday.

Similar data transmission speeds are possible over fiber networks, but these cost much more for the operators to build.

"This is a cost-efficient technology, as we use the cable TV networks which are already in place," Jukka Rinnevaara, chief executive of small-cap Finnish broadband equipment maker Teleste, told Reuters.

Teleste, whose rivals include big U.S. firms Scientific Atlanta and Cisco Systems, said that early next year it will bring to the market its Ethernet-to-the-home product, which will give consumers access to speeds of up to 100mbps.

The sector is closely followed by big technology companies. Last month, Sweden's Ericsson offered $51 million to buy Norwegian company Axxessit, which makes broadband Ethernet access equipment for telecommunications operators. To accelerate the transmission speed Teleste fits Ethernet--a cheap and standard transport method for Internet data over broadband networks--into cable television networks.

It said it expects first rival technology to be on the market at the earliest in the second quarter of 2007.

Teleste is running a field trial with cable TV service provider Essent in the Netherlands, but not yet at the top speeds it expects most homes will need in a few years time.

"Based on our research, 30 megabits per second is the absolute minimum in future homes," Pekka Rissanen, a Teleste executive told a news conference.

"Just one TV program would take 10 to 20 megabits per second of this alone. So, very fast we would reach a need for 30 megabits, and also for 50 megabits per second."

Rissanen said the cost of connecting a home with the new ethernet-to-the-home technology can vary between about $60.30 (50 euros) and $241.

CEO Rinnevaara declined to say how much the new technology could boost Teleste's sales or profits in the next 12 months.

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