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Trial Connects Monmouthshire Village to 1Gbps Wireless Broadband

Thursday, February 21st, 2019 (4:39 pm) - Score 2,661
broadway partners 60ghz mesh wireless

Several homes in the tiny rural Monmouthshire (Wales) village of Llanddewi Rhydderch can now access broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps thanks to a new 5G style trial, which has been supported by funding from the UK Government alongside solutions from Broadway Partners and Cambridge Communication Systems.

Until now residents of the village have had to suffer broadband speeds of less than 1Mbps. But the community’s remote location has also made it a target for part of the Government’s wider £2.1m 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT), which was announced a year ago (here).

The Pilot, which is being delivered by Broadway Partners, uses a 60GHzmesh” radio technology developed by CCS to reach hard-to-connect properties that have, until now, had no other option than to suffer with a slow and buffering connection. Each property had one of the company’s Metnet 60G Mesh radios attached.

The units themselves operate in the unlicensed mmWave spectrum band from 57GHz to 71GHz and are technically capable of ultra-high capacity up to 12Gbps (at very.. close range). On top of that they also appear to be compatible with the 802.11ad WiFi (Wi-Gig) standard, which is normally used for short range indoor communications.

Sara Jones, Monmouthshire County Councillor, said:

“Monmouthshire is renowned for its natural beauty and its appeal as a place to live and play. With the success of this 5G pilot trial, it will become an attractive location for modern businesses to locate, given the quality of its digital infrastructure and the council’s commitment to embracing innovation.”

Margot James MP, UK Digital Minister, added:

“Through our modern industrial strategy we are building a 5G Britain fit for the future, keeping communities connected in a digital world. Our 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is helping to make sure that rural areas like Monmouthshire are not left behind and can also see the benefits of new 5G technology.”

The exact setup of the trial is unclear, with the announcement offering only the most basic of details, but in order to get a speed of 1Gbps via the 60GHz band we assume the main distribution point can’t be more than several hundred metres away from the homes it needs to connect (a longer range Microwave relay appears to exist on top of a local farm building).

Sadly there’s no information on service tiers, price or deployment costs and these will be key considerations for any similar deployments in the future. Some of the kit being used doesn’t look terribly cheap, although it may well be more affordable than building a new fixed line infrastructure into the area.

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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.
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19 Responses
  1. Avatar A_Builder

    We the fact that the the proof on concept is being funded is great.

    As with anything RF or tech it will get cheaper over time. So even if it is expensive now it will become more possible.

    I totally agree with @MJ that gear like this properly set up could well be in the solution set for some remote rural. And you could see it being rolled out pretty quickly in some locations.

    After all a robust 1Gb connection does do the do for most real world things: even SME’s.

    • Avatar Pete

      This is similar tech to that ISP who put 1Gbps into Stone is South Glos – he put it at the top of the church.

      I know where the transmitter is near Llanddewi Rhydderch and it’s only a few hundred yards away. They had to pipe in a fibre link to do it – but it’s great to see this becoming more and more common.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Pete

      Sure the core and the transmitter really does need fibre backhaul but at that point the question is cost and speed.

      Also once you have the fibre to the core transmitter then it is pretty easy to leave a hand-off-point either active or passive for future connections to the fibre backbone so that B4RN type community operations can connect pure fibre.

      I suppose what I am say is that getting fibre close is an enabler of other approaches in the future provided the fibre backbone is open architecture that is cross sellable.

      As for the RF related risk comments below. Any RF is inverse cube related to the transmitter so by the time you are a few meters away from this kit the levels are absolutely trivial. Having worked with serious levels of RF power (kW range) in the past I wouldn’t be at all concerned about this kind of gear. There just isn’t enough energy going into the transmitter to do anything harmful never mind coming out of it!

  2. Avatar A_Builder

    *well

    can’t type on my phone

  3. Avatar Martyn Boswell

    The 60GHz technology maybe good for 500 meters, possibly even less. Good for close dense areas, not so good for rural, remote and sparse locations.

    Please tell me I’m wrong.

    • Avatar chris conder

      You’re not wrong Martyn. It is all part of the superfarce, everyone is in denial. The future is fibre, it is doable, it will be done eventually, but not whilst civil servants don’t have a grasp of basic physics. they all think fibre comes down phone lines, and don’t realise 5g cells all need a proper fibre feed to be effective.

  4. Avatar chris conder

    this site is archived, it was pulled down shortly after publication, but it is still true and well worth a look if you live in Wales… https://web.archive.org/web/20130510154259/http://superfarce-cymru.com/superfarce/faqs.html#item1462

    • Avatar Barry Weaver

      Hi Chris,

      I designed and deployed the farce you speak of.

      Being wed to idealism wont fix the problem. An alternative approach isn’t always wrong if it has an immediate and extremely positive impact.

      The team consisted of 2 men with cherry picker and they got the village connected in 4 weeks from the request for assistance.

      Gigabit wireless access is a perfectly sensible solution in some cases either as a stop gap or permanent fix – access and especially backhaul. I am happy to show you how.

      If the cost of laying fibre is prohibitive – gaining a client base before you dig makes sense because it de-risks investment.

      Radio technology and legislation has advanced massively since you woke up and decided to build a fibre network all those years ago.

      Regards

      Barry

  5. Avatar Michael V

    This is great that 5G-NR really is being delivered to rural communities. Something that should have happened with 4G-LTE. Those speeds are immense. But using the new mmWave band will be a challenge & a learning process when it comes to coverage.

    • Avatar 5G Infinity

      Hi, not quite 5G NR (they are shipping in the 700MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands at the moment). As the article says its 60GHz 802.11ad or its own propietary adapted wifi for the mesh operation.

      Re service levels and prices, this is a government funded trial so cannot be commercialised until the the trial is finished. Once finished they will have to circumvent the state aid rules to ensure taxpayers money hasn’t been used to fund a commercial service.

    • Avatar Michael V

      @5g infinity… Hello, yeah I’m aware of the frequency bands being used. By the Four Mobile Operators anyway. It’s early days of the tech but no one is wrong calling it 5G-NR [as it’s a mix of ‘New Radio’ tech / frequencies never used before,] even if The output from the cells is converted to 802.11.

  6. Avatar Mark

    Theyll be up arms in my Cotswold town, the dangers of radiation and Wi-Fi as one of the objectors said “I’d rather have no mobile signal or Wi-Fi than kill my children” so all 3500 population have to pit up with this nonsense.

  7. Avatar Michael V

    Hello Mark. May I just explain… Radiation? I’m no expert but have taken an interest. Cell sites actually don’t give out as much as people think. If you want radiation, then am FM transmitter bangs out radiation for a few short miles, a microwave gives out radiation & the one thing we use everyday… Bluetooth. That gives out a massive huge amount of radiation everytime we turn it on. [Based on a hand held radiation detector] & most people leave Bluetooth switched on!!! We put OURSELVES in front of it. Granted.. A cell site on the new mmWave band hasn’t been used before. But the 3.0GHz or even 700mhz that will be used for 5G-NR really isn’t that much of a risk.
    [We even put WiFi in our homes. That gives out signal on 2.4GHz but works on the much higher 5GHz band also]

    I’m just saying don’t beat down a technology that is finally able to connect cut off villages.

  8. Avatar Duncan

    If this is a trial of new technologies, are there any health related factors being looked at?

    • Avatar MrMe

      Yes.
      There is research going in into how hypochondria develops when wireless systems are installed. Sadly none of the people in the village who are suffering symptoms have internet connections, so they are unable to report their findings.

  9. Avatar Kandikat

    Higher frequencies are less able to penetrate solid objects.

    I would think 5G safer than a microwave oven.

    I bet these snowflakes in the cotswolds have sky TV for their kids to watch which, the last time I checked is delivered over a microwave link.

    I might be wrong of course.

  10. Avatar chris conder

    When we ran a wifi mesh network in our valley one of the customers was worried about radiation as they hosted a transmitter on their house as well as their own indoor wifi. We brought in a specialist to measure the radiation in their home. The highest count was on some fancy bedside lights in the bedroom, the second was the dect phones. The wifi network hardly scored. I agree with previous respondents, our homes are already full of worst things and we are all living longer.

  11. Avatar Michael V

    I remember some years ago that a cell site was put up in a small village somewhere in Britain. The Operator told the villerges they switched it on. Either carrying 2G or 3G. [It was before 4G launched.] Some people complained of feeling unwell & or headaches. After 1/3 months the Operator revealed that in fact the site was not live…

    I think there needs to be more reassurance from operators & councils the the mmWave band is not dangerous to us. As this is what people are getting upset about.

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