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Arqiva Bag 5G Mobile Spectrum from Luminet for Ultrafast London Broadband

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 (12:53 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 478)
5G Mobile Wireless Radio Mast

Wireless infrastructure giant Arqiva has acquired a key slice of 28GHz radio spectrum from business ISP Luminet, which reflects a Region A licence for 2 x 112MHz that covers Central and Greater London. The move will help the company to trial a 5G based fixed wireless broadband network.

At the start of this year Arqiva announced their intention to work with Samsung and conduct the country’s first 5G trial in London during the second half of 2017 (here). The high frequency 28GHz band is one of those that has been used in a number of 5G based Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) tests, which is currently more focused on connecting homes and businesses to ultrafast broadband than supporting mobile devices like Smartphones.

Nicolas Ott, MD of Telecoms and M2M at Arqiva, said:

“5G connectivity is a highly debated topic, especially with regards to what it will deliver and by when. However, the FWA component is set for a head start thanks to the drive from major global fixed line and mobile operators as both a substitute and a companion to traditional fibre services. 3GPP certification is critical to achieving global acceptance.

5G FWA is an exciting opportunity to deliver true ultrafast broadband above 500Mbps to millions of households; this is especially relevant in the UK where so few households are connected by fibre to the home (FTTH) or fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). FWA has the ability to become a truly alternative technology to deliver fibre-like services.

In purchasing this additional licence we are able to further our ambitions in this area, standing ourselves in good stead to deliver a compelling 5G FWA wholesale service to UK mobile and fixed operators across the country, and with even more capacity in Greater London.”

Sasha Williamson, CEO of Luminet, said:

“The advent of 5G is set to be one of the most exciting digital developments of the decade, and we will be following Arqiva’s trial with interest.

Divesting the spectrum was a strategic business decision for Luminet as we continue to build on our existing 400Sqkm London network and enhance our focus on wholesale for our intelligent GB connectivity and computing services.”

We too will be keeping a close eye to see if the forthcoming trial can deliver speeds of 500Mbps+ to homes in London, although it’s worth pointing out that such trials tend to reflect the best case scenarios due to low network congestion and targeted coverage.

Nevertheless several reports have suggested that FWA services via 5G could in the future overtake fixed line fibre solutions (example), although there’s a long road left to travel before that outcome is proven in the real world. The first official 5G standard isn’t expected to be ready until March 2018 and commercial services won’t deploy until 2020.

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3 Responses
  1. Steven bridgett

    This will be the same Arqiva that were given £150 million of public funding to deliver 600 new mobile phone masts to ‘not spots’ around the UK and in 5 years spent about £30 million on administration and delivered a ‘handful’ of masts!

    • In fairness that was just as much the Government’s fault for failing to consider the complexity of such deployments beforehand, such as issues with getting planning permission past local opposition, wayleaves, restrictions on mast hight and problems with securing a good power supply in remote areas.

      You can plan and plan but often some of these issues will only show up once the engineers begin detailed survey and deployment work.

  2. Steven Bridgett

    No local opposition for the four masts in my area Mark. In fact we had lots of local support. No formal or preliminary plans submitted in Northumberland other than a presentation given to senior members of the council and National Park Authority (3 years before the projected ended) where we highlighted the need to engage at the grassroots level to ensure they would be able to overcome issues like fibre backhaul (where required) and three phase electricity (which is something Arqiva hadn’t even considered). I tried on a number of occasions to re-engage with Arqiva and push the project forward and was stonewalled every time. We now find ourselves in a situation in our neck of the woods, where we are investigating delivering the masts ourselves.

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