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UPDATE UK Broadband Launch 65Mbps Fixed 4G Internet for London Homes

Wednesday, Jun 4th, 2014 (8:22 am) - Score 26,132

UK Broadband (UKB), the sibling of Hong Kong based telecoms giant PCCW (HKT), is today expected to take another pop at breaking into the consumer Internet access market when it launches a new fixed line and 4G (TD LTE) fixed wireless based “fibre-fast” broadband service for homes and businesses in London using its 3.5GHz or 3.6GHz radio spectrum bands.

The new service, which is to be called ‘Relish‘, is likely to focus on areas where the established operators (e.g. BT, Virgin Media etc.) have failed to provide adequate connectivity. In addition, Relish will be supported by a national roaming agreement with one of the UK’s primary mobile operators, which should make at least part of its service available across the country.

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At this stage little is known about what customers can expect, although UKB appears keen to deliver a service that could replace traditional fixed line connectivity, even if the limited coverage of their 3.5/3.6GHz bands could make that harder to achieve than if lower frequency spectrum was used. But it’s not the first or even the second time that they’ve tried to do this.

Some years back UKB launched its first attempt at a consumer-facing wireless broadband solution (aka – Now – formerly Netvigator) to premises in Reading (England), which ended up being discontinued in 2009 as the operator began to explore newer 4G technologies (here). The service also struggled to attract customers due to falling behind developments in the fixed line broadband market and a lack of advertising.

The Now service was revived again in 2012 (here) as part of UKB’s move to switch-on the country’s first 4G LTE Fixed Wireless system for commercial services in parts of London (Southbank and the borough areas of Southwark) and Reading, although the related website recently stopped advertising this service and instead appears to be acting as a holding page for existing subscribers.

uk broadband southwark proposed 4g td lte 2011 coverage map
UKB’s Proposed 4G Coverage Map of Southwark (2011)

ISPreview.co.uk notes that UKB’s existing network in London uses 124MHz of spectrum in LTE bands 42 and 43 (3.5GHz and 3.6GHz), which allows the deployment of 6 x 20MHz wide channels and that’s enough capacity for some potentially very fast service speeds. Before it went dormant again ‘Now’ was already offering download speeds of up to 40Mbps (5Mbps uploads) from £21.50 a month.

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Meanwhile UKB has also launched its network into several other parts of the country, such as Swindon, albeit usually in partnership with a local ISP or public authority rather than as its own service. Past attempts to launch a consumer-facing product have often suffered due to a serious lack of advertising (they might be good at building the network but not promoting it). The phrase “third time lucky?” comes to mind.

According to the WSJ, UKB’s new “consumer-facing brand” will be announced sometime today or later this week and it will offer both a fixed line and fixed 4G wireless broadband service to customers (we suspect the fixed aspect is just the capacity supply). It’s important to remember that Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions are usually much faster and more capable than traditional mass market Mobile Broadband services, albeit also more niche in terms of coverage.

Apparently the initial aim of Relish will be to expand upon UKB’s existing network coverage of London, specifically focusing on not-spots and slow-spots in the city’s outlying areas. But to stand any chance of success Relish will need to offer a competitive superfast broadband product and one that it is willing to actively promote. We will update this post once the official announcement has been published.

UPDATE 10:07am

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It’s not much but we’ve had it confirmed that the service will indeed launch today and UKB’s digital launch partner, TH_NK, has also given us this sneak peek into how the service will interface with and work for mobile and desktop users.

relish_portable_options

UPDATE 10:21am

The official website for Relish – https://www1.relish.net – now appears to be live. The wireless package for home users appears to offer speeds of up to 65Mbps with unlimited usage from £20.00 per month (plus £50 one-off for the Huawei 4G modem hardware) on a monthly contract. A 12 month contract option is also available and this makes the connection hardware free.

In addition, Relish also offers a combined home wireless broadband and mobile solution, which offers the above service alongside a bundled Mobile Broadband service (this can be used across the UK) with various usage allowances. Prices start at £25 per month for the Unlimited Home & 1GB mobile bundle (plus £25 one-off) and rises to £50 per month for their 20GB Mobile Broadband data bundle with Home Unlimited.

The Mobile Broadband dongle is not part of UKB’s own 4G network and instead is based off a national MVNO deal with one of the country’s primary mobile operators as mentioned earlier.

A variety of business plans are also on offer, which follow the same format but cost slightly more.

Mark-Jackson
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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