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Lincolnshire UK Council Shuns Alternative Wireless Broadband Project

Friday, May 15th, 2015 (9:32 am) - Score 1,328

The Lincolnshire County Council has rejected an alternative superfast broadband network proposal from a little known ISP called ionNET, which would have used its point-to-point and ‘up to’ 30Mbps capable wireless broadband network to reach rural parts that the local BT and Broadband Delivery UK programme might overlook.

At present the primary Onlincolnshire project (East Midlands, England) is already working with BT to roll-out FTTC/P based “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to “at least” 89% of all premises in the county by April 2016 and a new contract could soon see this expanded to 95% by around 2017/18.

However big gaps in the coverage will still remain and ionNET claims that their solution could help to fill those. Indeed Lincolnshire already has form in this field after the EU contributed £300,000 to help wireless ISP ABInternet extend their network to parts of East Lindsey and Boston (here).

But apparently ionNET’s proposal, which would have required around £100k of public funding to cover all of South and Central Lincolnshire, was deemed to be too expensive (here).

Steve Brookes, LCC’s Broadband Programme Manager, said:

Earlier this year, the company approached us again, this time, following discussions, proposing what proved to be a much more expensive project than the original.

However, the target area was not one that would be eligible for funding from the European Regional Development Fund or BDUK. So, it would need to be paid for by the council itself, which was unrealistic given the current financial situation.

In addition, the projected cost would require us to go through a full tender process – we couldn’t simply hand the money over.”

On problem here is that state aid rules prevent overbuilding, except with some bits at the edges of a network, and from the description it sounds as if the ionNET coverage would have reached into many areas where the BDUK programme is already operating.

In any case ionNET’s Director, Nik Fox, feels adamant that this is a wasted opportunity: “At one point, we had a unique deal in place, which brought down costs considerably. Their own delays in engaging with the process saw that plan fade away. … The project is still viable, it’s still public money … When you look at costs against benefits, we don’t see why this has become such a problem.”

A quick look at the ISPs website reveals that their service, once available to an area, costs £199 +VAT to install (including all the needed kit) and the 30Mbps residential package costs £29.99 +vat per month (Note to ionNET: home services need to be inc. VAT) on a 24 month contract (50:1 contention ratio). The service is technically unmetered, although they do give a vague warning about the potential for restrictions. Sadly their website contains no T&C’s or any legally required contact details.

At present the ISP’s service is already live in Larne, Killinchy, Killyleagh & West Strangford Loughshore (Northern Ireland) and Bourne (Lincolnshire). But they are also looking to expand into parts of Rutland, the London Borough of Barnet, The Fens (East of Peterborough) and East Northamptonshire.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Richard says:

    From their website their subheading is;

    The way we see it, the internets in a rut, literally. The big phone companies are slowly digging ditches to bring you high speed internet…& you’re left to wait. Well, we’re not waiting. We’re connecting you NOW with new thinking. The future’s not faster cables, its NO cables.

    Sounds remarkably like the advert for Ubiquiti’s World Network, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H5mA7qoM1g

  2. Avatar Bill Lewis says:

    A lot of fixed wireless providers are popping up now, much like they did as wifi mesh operators and ‘one man and an access point’s’ back in the early days of ADSL.

    Many of these were enthusiastically funded by quango’s and councils, favouring those proponents who had the gift of the gab and smooth marketing skills over those who knew what they were doing.

    Sadly quango’s/councils were ill equipped to vet a solution that has a technical element that does not involve a twisted pair cable. They still are, but now it reaches up to central .Gov and the EU.

    The result was a lot of bad press which resulted in Wireless gaining a stain that it did not deserve. The technology should not of been tarnished by incompetence, but it was.

    To add to this equipment invariably had to be built / assembled as there was very little in the way of affordable commercial equipment. Adding an even greater chance of failure as clueless people ran long runs of ultra lossy RG58 cable to aerials from the router, didn’t understand the distance / ack timing limitations of normal wifi kit and much more.

    Fast forward to today and now anybody can buy fixed wireless kit of all shapes and sizes, it is off the shelf and affordable. But very few have any idea of what is needed to turn those boxes into a super fast , reliable and sustainable network.

    My background is in Radio equipment and network design, with some years in civil service wireless communications and i find many of the fixed wireless network implementations I come across as cringeworthy at best. They seem to not have any idea about Intermodulation, Blocking, ACR and fresnel to name some issues. Then they wonder why it doesn’t work very well and customers complain and the technology receives a further unfounded poor image.

    I am not saying there are perfect Fixed Wireless networks out there, including the ones I have ran for over 11 years. There are always going to be bottlenecks and compromises that have to be made, just the same as there is with ALL other technologies.

    I just wish there was some competent and qualified independent organisation that policed the use of Fixed Wireless so those who go down the route of implementing it have a sound understanding of how to do it and what the gotcha’s will be.

    It isn’t a case of slapping an aerial up, making wild claims and raking in what they may think is easy money! It is far from that if done properly.

    Bill

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