UK bases in Iraq and Afghanistan will get free Wi-Fi access next year in an initiative aimed at quadrupling the number of internet access points.

The service will be provided free-of-charge and will come into effect in April 2008.

The password protected Wi-Fi network will operate at wireless points in the living quarters of the troops, operating at 128KB per second.

The technology will be extended to cater for one in 25 soldiers, it currently serves one in a 100.

The service will be provided by UK-based communications company Paradigm as part a of Skynet 5 PFI contract they have with the UK Ministry of Defence.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the service will allow the troops to stay in touch with home.

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Paradigm also offers troops a voicemail package which families and friends use to leave two-minute messages.

By Ahsanul Islam