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UKB Networks Submit New Wireless Broadband Plan for North Swindon

Monday, April 4th, 2016 (8:11 am) - Score 684

A cautious welcome has greeted UKB Networks submission for planning permission to build six or seven new 15 metre masts in the urban part of North Swindon after an earlier proposal was rejected (here). But the new locations could mean that fewer premises will receive the broadband service.

The original £1.9 million contract aimed to deliver a wireless superfast broadband (24Mbps+) service to around 20,000 homes in areas that have been left neglected by commercial fixed line operators, which would have required 16 new masts to be built.

However local residents and politicians in the urban side of North Swindon ultimately succeeded in blocking 5 of the proposed masts, which meant that 7,000 of the planned 20,000 premises would not be able to receive the service unless alternative locations could be found (i.e. the 13,000 premises in rural areas were unaffected).

The good news is that UKB Networks have now submitted a revised proposal for six to seven new masts, which would be built as far away from homes and schools as possible (avoiding further complaints). However the caveat is that the final network coverage will be a little less than the original aspiration of 20,000 premises (we don’t know how much less).

Graham Currier, UKBN’s Head of Networks, said (here):

“We have had a walk round and these locations are the only places that will work for masts that are not directly opposite schools, play areas or houses. We are limited in what else we can do as our five site location has been refused and the other is the only other real option.

Our six site location may work but it would increase the amount of postcodes that would be out of the range to receive the speeds we want to deliver.”

Early feedback from the plans suggest that locals appear to be more welcoming of the new proposal, although it remains to be seen if that will change over the next few weeks of consultation. The news also follows hot on the heels of BT’s recent announcement for the area (here), which saw their 500 premises strong FTTP trial going live in Haydon Wick (North Swindon).

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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.
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4 Responses
  1. New_Londoner says:

    The challenge the council and UKBN face is that many local people do not appear to want a fixed wireless solution. This seems to be partly due to the need to have some fairly high masts installed, and partly due to scepticism about the claimed performance of the network – not helped both by pervious failed wireless projects in the area and also due to the patchy performance of the similar Relish network operated by UKBN.

  2. DTMark says:

    I spent time looking into wireless solutions. A small number of people had health and safety concerns regarding the siting of the transmitters.

    And yet, I don’t hear calls for a Faraday cage to be put up enclosing the village like something out of a Stephen King story to block all the TV, radio and mobile signals.

    I looked into the research and found that some schools had “banned Wi-Fi” on the grounds that “if there is a risk it is better to be safe than sorry”. Quite true. But that’s not quite the same thing anyway.

    I couldn’t find any reliable sources of information about the risk: where does this concern come from? Does anyone know..

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      In the above case it’s less of a health concern and more of a cosmetic / property value fear, as well as a desire for a fixed line service.

    2. wirelesspacman says:

      “some schools had “banned Wi-Fi””

      I wonder how many of the same schools have however put massive 2G/3G masts on the school roof?! 🙂

      I think a lot of the concerns you mention arose out of the fact that 2.4GHz wifi uses the same frequency band as a microwave oven – “and if it can do that to a piece of chicken, then just imagine what it will do to poor little Joey!”

      These days with all the kids having mobile phones, and thus constantly irradiating themselves that way, the concern with wifi has I suspect pretty much gone away.

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