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BT Trial 80Mbps Wireless to the Cabinet Broadband on Rathlin Island

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 (11:16 am) - Score 2,670

The remote island of Rathlin, which is home to around 100 people and resides just off the north coast of Northern Ireland, has been given a significant capacity upgrade thanks to BT’s trial of a new “experimentalWireless to the Cabinet (WTTC?) broadband system.

Precise details of the new system are not known but the official Rathlin Community states that it will operate via a “newly developed radio solution” linking the Ballycastle telephone exchange on the mainland with the Rathlin island exchange (this sounds like some form of Microwave link).

Apparently the new link will deliver a significant capacity boost and this in turn can be integrated into BT’s local fibre optic based broadband architecture, which provides a ‘fibre-like’ capacity directly to street cabinets (i.e. FTTC). Locals can thus expect to receive internet download speeds of up to 80Mbps.

Frank McManus, BT’s Head of Wholesale Services, said (Recombu):

We have been exploring innovative ways to deliver high speed broadband capability to Rathlin for some time, so we are very excited to announce the launch of this technology trial. This is a first for the UK and Ireland and will enable residents on the island to enjoy similar fibre broadband speeds as those available to businesses and households across Northern Ireland.”

The news itself was actually published earlier this month but we neglected to cover it at the time. It’s understood that the system will be trialled for 6 months with a limited number of local premises and, if successful, it will then be rolled out to the rest of Rathlin.

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar Clive says:

    …Thinks about latency… Cringes… Walks away.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Umm, I’ve a fixed wireless service (admittedly fibre backhaul with the contended element in my wireless sector) which gives conistent latency of less than 8ms to bbc, compared to over 30ms on my FTTC service – with 8ms just to the cab – (and much worse when the BTw network has one of its all-too-frequent off days). Might not inevitably be poor latency, perhaps?

    2. Avatar TheFacts says:

      It’s a fixed radio link, nothing like wi-fi.

    3. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      The latency from Wifi is caused by contention between devices. This is a point to point link, a pair of transceivers, no other devices to compete with. The latency will be fine.

    4. Avatar Mike says:

      Agreed can only imagine how poor it will perform

    5. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Why ‘poor’?

    6. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Given microwave is used by some huge corporates as a fibre-based leased line replacement I would speculate it’ll be fine.

      Microwave goes up to the required 5 9s availability and 10Gb/s speeds.

      BT aren’t using home routers and Pringles cans…

    7. Avatar FibreFred says:

      The haters really need to read and brush up on their tech. Point to point radio links are used all over the place, no latency issues.

      I suspect this was a case of – Headline contains BT, quick post a negative comment a.s.a.p.

  2. Avatar Ethel Prunehat says:

    Let’s see if BT’s marketing department can somehow shoehorn the word ‘fibre’ into this. ‘Virtual fibre’, perhaps?

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      The fibre will be between the exchange and cabinets. The wireless link is between exchange and mainland for backhaul.

  3. Avatar DTMark says:

    Does seem like an ingenious way of tapping into the infrastructure that’s already there.

    3G here has ping times of anything from 30ms to 60ms on average and while you do notice it occasionally given the variability of the service (contention, signal etc) web pages do snap back more or less instantly 95%+ of the time with no noticeable lag. When I’m at clients’ premises with ADSL2+ I almost always find their connections are visibly much slower than mine as the comparatively poor downstream and upstream come into play.

    Frankly if an island of 100 people are holding out for point to point fibre they may well be waiting a long time. Gamers may not be delighted, but this does qualify as “the middle of nowhere” as far as broadband is concerned IMO anyway.

    The quality of the connections will then depend on how manny fibre cabinets there will be and network rearrangement since the island is 6km wide and 4km tall (furthest points) so the cost of enough cabinets to provide sufficient speeds is likely to hurt relative to the number of people on the island.

  4. Avatar 3G Infinity says:

    This technology is not new, the packaging and use may well be. BT uses wireless in many parts of its network including microwave for backhaul, 5GHz wireless as extensions to its fibre network for some of its school/county council contracts, etc.

    In the US 1Gbps microwave links (<5km) are used in preference to fibre in city araes as its a) direct and low cost and b) has lower latency than fibre : many Chicago financial institutions depend on it.

    More important is integrating wireless into a fibre/copper network with all of the attendant network management, fualt management and reporting systems and line checkers. That latter is Openreach, and it isn't renowned for moving quickly or adapting what exists just to incorporate a bit of tech.

  5. Avatar Indigent says:

    Looks more than okay from here.

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