Bell Aliant Regional Communications LP plans to spend $5 million next year on expanding its high-speed Internet access coverage and setting up more public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The Halifax-based firm, which is the incumbent carrier in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, said Aliant High Speed will be available to 86.4 per cent of its customers in Nova Scotia by the end of 2008.

The carrier will also give its high-speed customers access to 80 Aliant hotspots, which normally charge $7.50 per hour, at no extra charge. Web surfers who are not Aliant high-speed customers need a major credit card to get Internet access at a hot spot.

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Currently, Bell Aliant operates hotspots at some food outlets and major transport terminals, including the Via Rail station in Halifax, and the airports in Moncton, Charlottetown, St. John’s, Nfld. And Saint John, N.B. Hot spot customers need a notebook or PDA with a 233 MHz or better processor, with at least 64 MB of RAM and running either Windows XP (with Internet Explorer 6.0 or Netscape 8.1) or Mac OS10.x (with Safari 2.0).