Reference Library – England – Hampshire Broadband

The challenge in making 5G work for smart cities

Feature: Financial factors, commercial models, geography and planning regulations can all pose problems for local authorities with an eye on the technology

It may be a promise for the 2020s rather than here and now, but 5G and its implications for the development of smart places is moving up the agenda for all those involved.

The Challenge In Making 5G Work For Smart CitiesThe new wireless broadband technology promises to run many times faster than the existing 4G, with the scope for bandwidths touching 1Gbps for some applications and the ability to handle the exponential growth in connections that comes with the internet of things (IoT). Authorities are already welcoming the potential of 5G networks, but they are going to have to change some of their own approaches to planning and infrastructure development to ensure it is fulfilled. The issue came under discussion at last week’s Smart Summit 2017 event in London, in a session that highlighted some of the serious challenges involved in harnessing the technology.

Aberdeen driver

The big driver for its adoption was made clear by Gordon Wright, future city lead at Aberdeen City Council, one of the 5G pioneer authorities in local government.

“We see the emergence of 5G as something that starts to create a unified, connected city with a number of network capabilities beneath it,” he said.

“It’s about the opportunity 5G will bring to disrupt the market, from where you’re locking the capacity within your own network to something in which you can push capabilities across a number of networks.”

Julian David, chief executive officer of IT industry association techUK, highlighted the increased capacity and reduced latency compared with existing networks, crucial factors in the use of connected vehicles and harnessing the IoT for rapid responses. Equally important is the long term flexibility in making it possible to create different types of connectivity with multiple users. This should break through the current limitations of blocks of spectrum and help to meet an unprecedented expansion of requirements. All this is feeding the hopes for 5G, but it is going to require a massive investment in the infrastructure and the speakers made clear there are some serious challenges.

Small cell volume

One of these is around the lead option for providing 5G in cities, the provision of small cell miniature base stations as the basis for a network. These can operate on low power but also have a limited range – in the low hundreds of metres – and David pointed out that it is going to need a lot of them to provide universal coverage. The estimates for London alone are for a number approaching 200,000, pointing towards a major programme with the potential to hit logistical difficulties and raise protests along the way. He pointed to the need for a more sympathetic approach to planning applications for 5G stations, which needs a lot of authorities to speed up the process, and to worry less about objections to the use of street furniture to provide the infrastructure.

Authorities also need to create a welcoming climate for operators. He suggested they could be more sympathetic when operators have to park their vans in restricted areas to carry out maintenance – matching a privilege already enjoyed by Royal Mail – and keep the business rates to reasonable levels. Another issue is the heavy volume of data moving through 5G will knock on to the fixed line broadband networks to which it is connected, pointing to a need for more fibre, and this could place a strain on the ducting infrastructure, especially around older cities. Then comes the pressure to ensure that 5G does not reinforce social exclusion by making sure it is available in all parts of a town or city, including those lower down the socio-economic scale that are often unattractive to commercial investment.

Along with this is the familiar issue of how to provide any communications infrastructure over sparsely populated rural areas, especially those with hilly terrain.

Cost of billions

The costs for dealing with all this are going to be in billions, and while nobody seriously expects local authorities to pay the bill, they have to create the environment in which commercial operators are ready to do so. This comes down partly to shaping a mutually beneficial deal for both sides, which provides scope for multiple operators to build their own connections and services. David said there is a need “to think of digital infrastructure in different way, about investment environment as well as the consumer. It’s very well to sell this to highest bidder, but not the way to get fast implementation.”

Responsibility for the solutions is spread between central and local government. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport won praise for its development of a national strategy for 5G1, and its financial support for a test network2. But there was also some criticism of the Government’s limited ambitions for high speed broadband availability3, which reduces the urgency of one of the demands for 5G.

Local government needs to build the right partnerships. Richard Marijs, technology strategist for mobile communications company T-Mobile, highlighted an approach in which an authority engages one company to renew all the infrastructure in an area – lampposts, fibre ducts, even sewers – and provide the scope for others to install the more specific technologies.

Commercial platform

Wright said that Aberdeen has used a relationship with one to provide a commercial model to deal with the challenges around planning, regulations and access to buildings, and to develop a commercial platform on which other operators can add their contributions.

“The challenge is find the alliance and commons model,” he said. “We want investment across the city, with efficient and effective economies at scale.”

There are plenty of complexities in all this, but also a sense of urgency to overcome the barriers. David summed up the main priority with a simple message: “We’ve got speed up.

We can’t take forever to do this stuff.”


  1. ^ national strategy for 5G (www.gov.uk)
  2. ^ financial support for a test network (www.ukauthority.com)
  3. ^ limited ambitions for high speed broadband availability (www.ukauthority.com)

Atlantic Broadband to purchase MetroCast

Atlantic Broadband To Purchase MetroCast

MetroCast General Manager Bill Newborg requests transfer of cable franchise to Atlantic Broadband. Atlantic Broadband, the ninth largest cable operator in the U.S., is negotiating to purchase Metro-Cast. Metro-Cast General Manager Bill Newborg said in a personal interview that all employees will remain with the company. Employees are excited about the change and Atlantic Broadband will offer more tailor-made packages to customers. “Combining MetroCast’s services with Atlantic Broadband’s marketing will strengthen the business by providing a better service to customers.”

“Our company is being purchased by Atlantic Broadband,” Newborg told Westmoreland Supervisors. “Their company is somewhat larger than us, they are still what would be considered a small cable television operator in our world.”

When the two companies are joined they will have about a total of 800,000 customers which will make them about the 9th largest cable operator in the United States.
Atlantic Broadband operates in Western Pennsylvania out towards Pittsburgh, Maryland/Delaware, Eastern Shore, South Carolina and Connecticut. A representative from Atlantic Broadband was unable to attend the September 11 meeting.

“They also have South Florida, they are dealing right now with some issues from the storm obviously,” Newborg said. “At MetroCast we operate on the Eastern portion of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia,” Newborg added. “We have a large system up in New Hampshire. Atlantic Broadband bought the Connecticut system two years ago so they are very acclimated to our system. We use the same billing system so there should be minimal interruption to customers.”

Supervisor Larry Roberson asked, “All the agreements from MetroCast will be passed on?”

“Correct,” Newborg answered. “My understanding is we are going to operate under MetroCast brand name until July 2018. Our existing franchise, all of our contracts, business agreements would remain in place. They are acquiring all of our assets, the good, the bad and the ugly.”

County Administrator Norm Risavi asked, “Since they are larger than MetroCast will there be any chances of enhancing the broadband services beyond what MetroCast was capable of?”

“Initially they will be operating in the same system,” Newborg said. “Frankly MetroCast brings a pretty good engineering and operational side to their systems. I will be honest, I don’t know too much about them yet because this was just announced 6 or 7 weeks ago to the employees. My understanding is they were talking about getting everything to gig service in the short term whether that is a year or two years I don’t know.

They are in it for the long haul.”

Read more of this story in the September 20 issue of the Westmoreland News.1



  1. ^ Read more of this story in the September 20 issue of the Westmoreland News. (westmorelandnews.net)

The best and worst countries for broadband speeds

Broadband speeds in the UK lag behind many of its European neighbours, according to new analysis. With a mean download speed of 16.51 Mbps, Britain comes 31st in the global rankings for broadband speed – nearly three times slower than table topper Singapore at 55.13 Mbps. Countries including Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria are ahead of the UK in the analysis, while people in France, Italy and Australia typically get slower speeds.

Bringing up the pack is Yemen with an average download speed of 0.34 Mbps, where it would take two days to download a film in high definition. Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said the results showed the UK has lessons to learn from Europe.

The Best And Worst Countries For Broadband Speeds

He said: “These results offer us a fresh perspective on where we sit in the broadband world.

“Relatively speaking, we are near the top of the table.

“However, many of those ahead of us – some a long way ahead – are our neighbours both in the EU and wider Europe.”

The findings are based on more than 63 million broadband speed tests which were taken over a year and the results collected by M-Lab. These were later ranked by cable.co.uk.

Top 10 countries for fastest broadband speeds:

Rank Country Mean download speed (Mbps) Time taken to download 7.5GB movie (DD:HH:MM:SS)

1 Singapore 55.13 00:00:18:34

2 Sweden 40.16 00:00:25:30

3 Taiwan 34.4 00:00:29:46

4 Denmark 33.54 00:00:30:32

5 Netherlands 33.52 00:00:30:33

6 Latvia 30.36 00:00:33:43

7 Norway 29.13 00:00:35:09

8 Belgium 27.37 00:00:37:25

9 Hong Kong 27.16 00:00:37:42

10 Switzerland 26.93 00:00:38:01

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Top 10 countries for slowest broadband speeds:

Rank Country Mean Broadband Speed (Mbps) Time taken to download 7.5GB movie (DD:HH:MM:SS)

1 Yemen 0.34 02:02:02:28

2 Gabon 0.41 01:17:54:39

3 Burkina Faso 0.49 01:10:51:46

4 Congo, The Democratic Republic of the 0.55 01:07:17:51

5 Somalia 0.62 01:03:27:33

6 Vanuatu 0.63 01:03:00:56

7 Syrian Arab Republic 0.68 01:01:17:00

8 Venezuela 0.7 01:00:24:26

9 Congo 0.72 00:23:32:37

10 Benin 0.73 00:23:27:23