BT and OneWeb launch satellite connectivity in Lundy Island

BT and OneWeb, in partnership with the UK government, are now delivering internet connectivity to Lundy Island, North Devon.

Sitting 19km off the coast of North Devon, Lundy is the first real-world demonstration of BT and OneWeb’s strategic partnership which aims to deliver high-speed, reliable connectivity to remote locations in the UK and onwards.

It’s brilliant to be bringing high-speed, low-latency connectivity to Lundy Island in partnership with OneWeb and DSIT,” said Greg McCall, chief networks officer, BT Group.

“The installation will not only have a transformative impact on the island and its residents but is also a significant milestone in demonstrating the value of satellite communications and the crucial role such solutions will play in enabling digital connectivity across the entirety of the UK and beyond.”

Connectivity is delivered through an Intellian dual parabolic terminal on the island. This small, outdoor satellite antenna system connects to OneWeb’s constellation of over 630 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites which orbit at a distance of 1,200km. This is then connected to an indoor satellite modem to provide two-way data connectivity.

The connection then travels from User Terminal (UT) to Satellite Network Portal (SNP) via the LEO satellites, where it is backhauled across OneWeb’s WAN to one of BT’s points of presence (PoP) in London. From the PoP, traffic is routed back into the internet or delivered into BT’s 21C core network.

“We are excited to be working with BT and DSIT across Lundy Island, as we deliver consistent and stable connectivity to its community,” said Stephen Beynon, chief commercial officer, OneWeb. 

Read the full story.

CityFibre Optical Network Connections

Spring UK Budget 2023 – Full Expensing May Help FTTP and 5G Rollout

The Chancellor of the UK Government, Jeremy Hunt, has today announced the Spring 2023 Budget, which sadly made no mention of any extra support for gigabit broadband or 5G mobile deployments. But the new “full expensing” measure could help to bring down the cost of some related plant and machinery (capital expenses).

Firstly, we weren’t expecting to see any major “new” broadband and mobile related infrastructure funding announcements from the Government this time around, which is because they’re already running two such schemes. The first one is their £1bn Shared Rural Network project (progress update), which aims to extend geographic 4G based mobile (mobile broadband) coverage to 95% of the UK by end of 2025 (it will help 5G too).

The second one is their £5bn Project Gigabit programme, which aims to make gigabit-capable (1Gbps+) broadband ISP networks available to at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025 and then “nationwide” by 2030 (Winter 2023 Progress Update). The project consists of several support schemes, including vouchers (£210m), funding to extend Dark Fibre in the public sector (£110m) and gap-funded deployments with suppliers (rest of the funding).

Read the full story here.

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INCA Accuses Ofcom of Putting UK Full Fibre Rollout at Risk UPDATE

The Independent Networks Co-operative Association, which represents UK alternative broadband ISP networks, has today warned Ofcom that “more than £25bn worth of investment” to improve the UK’s digital infrastructure “will be directly threatened” if Openreach is allowed to introduce new FTTP wholesale price discounts (Equinox 2).

Just to recap. Openreach are set to introduce a new round of wholesale discounts on their full fibre broadband products from April 2023 (here). The move is intended to help their ISPs stay competitive with newer alternative networks (Summary of UK Full Fibre Builds) and further reduce the price of related packages, which will in turn boost take-up by consumers and aid the move away from copper lines.

As we’ve previously said, the discounts under Equinox 2 are not as dramatic as Equinox 1, with smaller changes to rentals and some reductions in connection charges. Nevertheless, more than a few AltNets view the move as being anticompetitive (here), with CityFibre even going so far as to lodge a Competition Act complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Ofcom (here).

Openreach’s smaller rivals carry a lot of risk due to being in the earliest stages of investment and build, but many of which have previously enjoyed a market where the operator was traditionally much more expensive. This made it easier for them to grow take-up, attract investment and gain support from ISPs to join alternative wholesale options. But at the same time, they fear that Openreach’s response (more discounts) may be putting all of that at risk.

However, last month saw Ofcom take the “provisional” position not to intervene (here), which the regulator said was because Openreach’s offer is “not anti-competitive and is consistent with the rules we consulted on before introducing them under our market review in 2021.” INCA has now responded to the related consultation and their reaction is much the same as it was last December (here).

Read the full story here.

Brillband app based broadband logo

Broadband ISP Brillband Secures £475,000 Investment Boost

Glasgow-based ISP Brillband, which at its launch last year (here) chose to quirkily describe itself as the “world’s first … app-based broadband provider“, has secured an additional £475k investment from “digital infrastructure banking experts based in Australia and Norway-based angel investors” to help expand across the UK.

In case anybody has forgotten, Brillband currently only sells Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband packages over CityFibre’s network in Scotland. At launch this was only available to parts of Glasgow and Renfrewshire, but they’ve since gone live across areas of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness and Stirling to match CityFibre’s current footprint.

The new investment is said to value the company at £5.4m, although valuing a new ISP before it’s had time to build a strong customer base – in this already over-crowded market of broadband providers – is not a task for the faint of heart. The provider needs to be given time to show that it can break into the market successfully, ideally without breaking itself in the process.

6g uk mobile broadband

The First 6G Mobile Broadband Networks Could Surface in 2028


The Government of South Korea has set somewhat of a marker down for the world this week after announcing that they would aim to bring forward the timetable for launching the first commercial 6G based mobile network, which would see it being introduced from 2028 instead of 2030 (with pre-6G trials staring in 2026).

At present, the 6G standard is still in the early R&D phase, and most people didn’t expect to see the first commercial builds until around 2030. But it is widely expected to be aiming for theoretical peak data rates of up to 1Tbps (Terabits per second) – or 1000Gbps if you prefer – and may be able to harness radio spectrum up to the TeraHertz (THz) bands, while also using AI optimisations, new antenna designs and other changes to improve network efficiency.

However, hitting such speeds in the real-world is a much bigger challenge, due to various reasons, such as the highly variable mobile environment (weather, buildings, trees and device choice all impact signal quality). Not to mention the high cost of needing to deploy an extremely dense and complex network, which is needed to help overcome the huge problems with weak signals and other obstacles (e.g. building lots of new masts tends to upset people).

Trooli engineer near manhole

Talk of a Sale Surrounds UK Full Fibre AltNet Provider Trooli

Trooli engineer near manhole

Kent-based broadband ISP Trooli, which aims to deploy a full fibre (FTTP) network to 1 million UK premises by the end of 2024 (in August they reported 275,000 completed), has attracted fresh rumours of a possible sale after they reportedly appointed a business sale and restructuring specialist, David Duggins, to their Board.

At present the provider is known to be building across a sizeable number of towns and villages in Derbyshire, Kent, East Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Suffolk. As part of this, Trooli were initially aiming to reach 400,000 premises across around 300 towns and villages by Dec 2022, but we’ve so far been unable to confirm how close they got to this.

The project was initially supported by an investment of €30m from the Connecting Europe Broadband Fund (Cube Infrastructure Managers) and £5m from NatWest, which was given a huge boost in 2021 by a new £67.5m debt facility agreement via a consortium of commercial lenders, facilitated by the CEBF (here).

Read the full story here.

gigaclear manhole

Gigaclear’s £38m Rural Buckinghamshire FTTP Build Sees Competition

Rural UK broadband ISP Gigaclear has announced that their ongoing £38m investment to expand their UK Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network into Buckinghamshire (England), which has already covered around 19,000 premises, is being extended to reach 1,700 homes in the village of Great Missenden. But they’re not alone.

The first deployment work in Great Missenden is due to get underway in February 2023, and it will then join several other locations in the county where Gigaclear has already built, or are building, including Aston Clinton, Naphill, Chesham Bois, Great Missenden, Haddenham and Buckingham. A number of other locations in the region are also being planned for the future.

NOTE: The Infracapital-backed ISP is investing up to £700m to reach 500,000 UK premises by the end of 2023 (they’ve already covered 380,000).

However, the move is interesting, since a number of other alternative and gigabit-capable broadband networks, such as via Swish Fibre and Trooli, are also deploying across the same area. Not to mention Openreach’s FTTP build and the fact that F&W Networks is nearby doing the same.

Read the full story here.

Wildanet Engineers Hand Connecting FTTP Lines

Wildanet Win Gigabit Broadband Rollout Contract for Cornwall UK

The fifth contract awarded under the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme – worth £36 million – has today been handed to UK ISP Wildanet, which will upgrade connectivity for more than 19,250 hard-to-reach homes and businesses across rural parts of Cornwall in South West England.

At present, Wildanet is already in the process of deploying their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network – backed by an investment of £50m from the Gresham House British Strategic Investment Infrastructure Fund (BSIF) – to reach rural premises across rural parts of Cornwall and Devon (they also operate a slower fixed wireless network). But the operator has, thus far, been quite vague about how much progress they’ve made.

NOTE: Around 73% of UK premises can already access a gigabit network (c. 45% via just FTTP) – see here.

By comparison, Project Gigabit aims to extend 1Gbps capable (download speeds) networks to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, before hopefully achieving “nationwide” coverage (c. 99%) by around 2030 (here). Commercial investment is expected to deliver around 80% of this, which leaves the government’s scheme to focus on tackling the final 20% (mostly rural and some sub-urban areas), where the private sector alone often fails. The project is technology neutral, so it can be delivered via either “full fibre” FTTP, Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) or fixed wireless access (e.g. 5G), but FTTP favoured.

Read the full story here.

Cityfibre FTTP Line Tester 2023

CityFibre Begins Maidstone’s £50m Gigabit Broadband Rollout

 has today confirmed that they’ve begun the construction phase of their £50m project – supported by civil engineering firm Lanes-i – to deploy a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network to “almost every home and business” in the Kent (England) town of Maidstone.

So far as we can tell, most of the operator’s initial build will be focused upon the Allington area of Kent, but they’ll face plenty of competition from gigabit-capable rivals. Virgin Media already has strong coverage of the town, while both Openreach and Netomnia (YouFibre) are also deploying their own full fibre in the same location. Some limited coverage also exists from Hyperoptic and OFNL, while Trooli has a nearby rollout in Loose.

NOTE: Cityfibre is supported by ISPs like VodafoneTalkTalk (Future Fibre), Zen InternetGiganetiDNET and more, but they aren’t all live or available in every area yet.

The build forms part of Cityfibre’s wider effort to cover up to 8 million premises (funded by c.£2.4bn in equity and c.£4.9bn debt) – across around 285 cities, towns and villages (c.30% of the UK) – by the end of 2025 (here). So far, the operator has already covered 2 million UK premises, including 1.8m Ready For Service (RFS) via ISPs (here).

Read the full story here.

Gigabit Networks UK ISP

ISP Gigabit Networks Joins FullFibre Ltd’s New UK FTTP Network

Leicester-based UK broadband ISP Gigabit Networks, which until now had seemed to focus on connecting premises across the Midlands of England via CityFibre‘s full fibre (FTTP) network, has now confirmed that their services will also be available via FullFibre Limited‘s gigabit-capable network.

FullFibre Ltd typically deploys its network as a wholesale platform via Fibre Heroes for other ISPs to harness (i.e. consumers should visit that site to check coverage). The operator is currently targeting 80+ towns (34 are already in-build) across parts of 11 different counties (e.g. Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire). At present, their aim is to reach “at least” 500,000 premises by 2025.

Gigabit Networks will thus join several other ISPs in offering services over FullFibre’s new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, including the likes of Air Broadband, BeFibre, Gigabit Networks, iDNET, Link Broadband, Merula, OctaPlus, Redline, Squirrel and ZYBRE.

Read the full story here.

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