The council has revealed plans to roll out broadband speeds of up to 40Mbps across 70 per cent of the borough
Slow internet speeds could soon be a thing of the past for Rotherhithe residents. The council has revealed its plans to roll out broadband speeds of up to 40Mbps across 70 per cent of the borough, beginning in Rotherhithe. In a cabinet report, Councillor Fiona Colley said the council would sign lease agreements with network operators within the next three months, which would see wireless broadband infrastructure installed on council-owned buildings.
It will be welcome news for Rotherhithe, where broadband speeds are so slow that some residents trek to Canada Water station to use the Wi-Fi. The council will also agree a ‘wayleave strategy’ for the installation of fibre broadband on council estates and blocks on a “first come, first served, non-exclusive basis”. “We will continue to work with the GLA [Greater London Authority] and government, seeking to secure funding to fill any remaining not spots and to ensure that full fibre broadband is available in all parts of the borough,” added Cllr Colley, cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance.
“We have already submitted an expression of interest to access part of the ?200million DCMS funding for broadband projects and are awaiting further information on the next steps of this programme. “Crucially, we are establishing a digital infrastructure team and a cross-council board to implement our digital infrastructure strategy and to stay abreast of technological improvements and innovations and funding opportunities.” The council is also involved in a pilot scheme to roll out ten ‘smart benches’ across Southwark.
Smart benches are solar-powered seats providing mobile device charging ports and free Wi-Fi access.
Several ‘InLinks’ could also replace traditional pay phones in the borough, providing free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging and a tablet for access to city services, maps and directions.
THOUSANDS of people in South Gloucestershire are set to benefit from an ongoing rollout of ultrafast fibre broadband.
The new BT service will be provided to even more towns and villages in the region following a successful bid by South Gloucestershire Council for funding totalling ?3million. The investment will bring ultrafast and Next Generation Access broadband to approximately 4,300 homes and businesses in South Gloucestershire by the end of 2018. Communities to benefit in the latest phase of the programme include some rural areas not previously covered by the rollout and remaining communities from the previous two phases.
These include: Almondsbury, Alveston, Aust, Bitton, Bromley Heath, Cold Ashton, Cromhall, Dodington, Downend, Doynton, Falfield, Frampton Cotterell, Hanham Abbots, Hanham, Hawkesbury, Horton, Iron Acton, Kingswood, Marshfield, Olveston, Patchway, Pilning, Severn Beach, Pucklechurch, Rangeworthy, Rockhampton, Soundwell, Siston, Sodbury, Tormarton, Tortworth, Westerleigh, Wick, Abson, Wickwar, Winterbourne and Yate. All areas are subject to the standard survey and planning work which will need to be carried out. Cllr John Goddard, Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources, said: “So far, more than 20,000 homes and businesses have been able to access fibre broadband as part of our rollout across South Gloucestershire.
“We have always said that we are committed to providing an improved broadband service to as much of the district as possible and this latest investment could see up to 99 per cent of premises covered when combined with the commercial programme.”
Work to provide the service will start later this year with more information on when communities will be able to benefit from the final phase of the rollout publicised in due course.
UK mobile infrastructure player Arqiva has snapped up a 28GHz license covering London that could support a rollout of fixed wireless access (FWA) services based on the 5G standard. The license, which Arqiva1 has bought from a managed services provider called Luminet, is for 2 x 112MHz of spectrum covering central and greater London. Arqiva says the new spectrum will bolster its 28GHz capabilities: It already owns a nationwide 28GHz license and announced plans earlier this year for summer trials of 5G-based FWA services in conjunction with South Korean equipment provider Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.2 (Korea: SEC), which is heavily focused on 28GHz-based technology. (See Eurobites: DT Makes Big NB-IoT Push3.)
Arqiva now appears to be eyeing a commercial move into the residential broadband market, where its 5G technology could become an alternative to the fixed broadband services available from the likes of BT Group plc4 (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Virgin Media Inc.5 (Nasdaq: VMED), TalkTalk6 and Sky7 (NYSE, London: SKY).
The move for a 28GHz license in London suggests Arqiva is prioritizing a service launch in the UK capital. But instead of providing services directly to consumers, Arqiva would sell wholesale offerings to mobile operators such as Vodafone UK8 and 3.
“5G FWA is an exciting opportunity to deliver true ultrafast broadband above 500 Mbit/s to millions of households; this is especially relevant in the UK where so few households are connected by fiber-to-the-home FTTH or fiber-to-the-cabinet technology,” said Nicolas Ott, the managing director of telecom and M2M at Arqiva, in a company statement about today’s spectrum deal.
“In purchasing this additional license we are able to further our ambitions in this area, standing ourselves in good stead to deliver a compelling 5G FWA wholesale service to UK mobile and fixed operators across the country, and with even more capacity in greater London,” added Ott. As Arqiva points out, the first 5G standard will form a part of the 3GPP’s Release 15 update, which is due for completion in March 2018, although most stakeholders do not expect to see 5G services deployed in Europe before 2019 at the very earliest.
Arqiva did not disclose the terms of its deal with Luminet, but 28GHz spectrum has been priced at a premium in the US market, where telco giant Verizon Communications Inc.9 (NYSE: VZ) recently paid as much as $3.1 billion for a license holder called Straight Path Communications Inc.10 with 28GHz concessions covering cities including New York and San Francisco. (See Verizon Buys Straight Path for $3.1B, Beating AT&T to 5G Spectrum11.)
Yet while there has been considerable hype about FWA technology and 28GHz spectrum in North America and parts of Asia, Europe’s operators seem more interested in using 5G to support mobile broadband services over lower frequency bands. That is partly because the region’s fixed broadband markets are relatively developed in comparison with those in some regions of the US. In London, in particular, most properties are or can economically be connected to fixed broadband networks, although Arqiva may see an opportunity to undercut BT’s wholesale pricing. It could also try to market a higher-speed offering than is available on some older copper-based networks.
BT has only recently started talking about investments in FTTH networks and G.fast, which boosts connection speeds on copper lines, and it will be several years before those technologies are more widely deployed. (See BT to Cover 2M Homes With FTTP in $8.7B Plan12.)
BT’s rivals may also want to cut their reliance on the incumbent operator, having previously complained about BT’s control of last-mile infrastructure and pricing practices. That said, recent regulatory moves to separate BT’s Openreach13 access-networks business from the rest of the company could address much of the concern about BT’s dominant infrastructure position. Besides giving Openreach its own management board, BT has also started to involve the likes of Sky and TalkTalk in discussions about network strategy and development. Vodafone, meanwhile, is warming to the idea of using Openreach’s ducts and poles to roll out its own fiber network. (See Vodafone UK Turns Mobile Network Guns on BT/EE14, BT Split Could Spur Vodafone to Invest in Fiber – Colao15 and Only BT’s Dismemberment Will Sate Rivals16.)
There is also a question mark over Arqiva’s 28GHz focus. While stakeholders in the US, Japan and South Korea are forging ahead with plans to run 5G services over 28GHz spectrum, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)17 does not appear to regard 28GHz — which has historically been used to support satellite services and fixed links — as a candidate 5G band. (See Spectrum Hurdle Could Trip Europe in 5G Race18.)
And those airwaves certainly do not figure in the plans of UK regulatory authority Ofcom. “When it comes to the pioneer bands for 5G, we have identified 26GHz and not 28GHz as the high frequency band,” an Ofcom spokesperson told Light Reading.
While Arqiva already owns 28GHz licenses, of course, it is unclear whether the regulatory stance could hinder its 5G plans.
Light Reading asked Arqiva if frequency regulations were a concern, and why it saw an FWA opportunity in the developed London market, but was still awaiting answers at the time of publication.
Previous efforts to corner the FWA market have foundered, though. UK Broadband, a company owned by Hong Kong’s PCCW Ltd.20 (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) and trading under the Relish brand, was sold to 3 earlier this year, having captured as few as 15,000 customers in London since launching FWA services in 2014. (See 3 to Bag 5G Spectrum With ?300M UK Broadband Move21.)
Arqiva owns about 8,000 tower sites across the UK and currently sells services to the country’s mobile operators. In May, its owners were reported22 to have kicked off proceedings for a ?6 billion ($8 billion) sale of the business.
- ^ Arqiva (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Samsung Electronics Co.
- ^ Eurobites: DT Makes Big NB-IoT Push (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ BT Group plc (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Virgin Media Inc. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ TalkTalk (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Sky (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Vodafone UK (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Verizon Communications Inc. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Straight Path Communications Inc. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Verizon Buys Straight Path for $3.1B, Beating AT&T to 5G Spectrum (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ BT to Cover 2M Homes With FTTP in $8.7B Plan (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Openreach (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Vodafone UK Turns Mobile Network Guns on BT/EE (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ BT Split Could Spur Vodafone to Invest in Fiber – Colao (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Only BT’s Dismemberment Will Sate Rivals (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Spectrum Hurdle Could Trip Europe in 5G Race (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ Ofcom (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ PCCW Ltd. (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ 3 to Bag 5G Spectrum With ?300M UK Broadband Move (www.lightreading.com)
- ^ were reported (www.telegraph.co.uk)
- ^ Light Reading (www.lightreading.com)