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PCCW Owned UK Broadband Confirms Swindon Launch of 4G Internet Service

Friday, Apr 20th, 2012 (7:56 am) - Score 1,222

As expected UK Broadband (UKB), the sibling of Hong Kong based telecoms giant PCCW, has announced that Swindon will be the “first local authority in the UK” to benefit from a borough-wide superfast “4G” Mobile Broadband service over its 3.5GHz based Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

It emerged last year that the borough of Swindon, which is home to about 186,000 people, had previously been struggling to maintain a free wireless internet (wifi) service (aka – SIGNAL). This was part of the areas wider Digital City project but had sadly proven to be unsustainable, so instead the Swindon Borough Council, Capita and UKB agreed to develop a 4G alternative (original news).

Unfortunately Swindon still had to wait for UKB to complete the development of its service, which finally happened in February 2012 when they announced the “first commercial deployment” of a 4G service in the UK for the Southbank and Borough areas of Southwark in London (May 2012).

Nicholas James, CEO of UK Broadband, said:

UK Broadband is leading the way when it comes to commercial LTE deployments in the UK. Not only are we rolling out some of the UK’s first commercial LTE networks, we are also demonstrating how this technology can be used by local authorities in urban areas to deliver next generation services and save money. By deploying our unique combination of very high speed microwave and high capacity multi-channel LTE we can deliver truly wireless towns and cities. We can also deliver super-fast home broadband in line with the government’s broadband ambitions.

We have commenced building the core transmission network and have committed to delivering £480k worth of savings in the next five years for the local authority as well as enabling the introduction of innovative services and solutions for the public sector and businesses. Swindon Borough Council have a history of championing innovative digital projects, such as their aspirations of providing Wi-Fi to the whole town through Digital City and the Highworth pilot project. We’re confident that by working together with Swindon Borough Council, we will demonstrate how wireless technologies can be best deployed across a town or city to deliver real benefits to a wide range of individuals, organisations, businesses and the public sector.”

Hitesh Patel, Swindon Borough Council’s Board Director, added:

This deployment will allow us to deliver next generation services, while making substantial savings. We are a forward looking local authority, eager to embrace the benefits of innovative new technologies, and believe that this project will provide the infrastructure Swindon needs to continually succeed in both the public and private spheres.

The increased speed and reliability provided by the use of smart devices and superfast next generation mobile broadband will enable public sector workers to be more effectively and easily connected to their core office systems and data whilst working in different localities. It will allow us to begin adopting working practices that will significantly improve the efficiency with which key services are delivered.

For example, we envision that key front line staff, such as social workers, would be able to update case records remotely and prepare for their next visit without needing to return to a central location. Capabilities such as these will form the basis of more efficient service delivery, alongside the savings on communications budgets.”

Apparently the core of UKB’s hybrid microwave/4G network will be rolling out to 63 service sites via point-to-point and point-to-multipoint microwave links, which should replace legacy technologies like ADSL. The 4G service itself will then be “layered over this network” to deliver the promised town/city-wide coverage.

Sadly much of the PR spin talks about the services benefit for “public sector and businesses” purposes, although local residents should still be able to adopt the solution through “retail partnerships“. At this stage UKB isn’t saying exactly what form this will take but we know that there won’t be a free solution anymore (expect to pay for access).

Initial services on the network will be fixed connectivity solutions. The first mobile wifi (MiFi) devices and related services should be available from September 2012. The 3.5GHz band itself tends to work best in low mobility environments, such as on a local fixed wireless service.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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