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Wireless ISP Airband Start Rural Network Rollout in Herefordshire UK

Thursday, April 4th, 2019 (12:04 pm) - Score 1,212
airband wireless broadband mast

Worcester-based ISP Airband has announced that they’ve begun the state aid supported roll-out of a new hybrid wireless and fibre optic broadband network to cover 10 rural communities (dispersed clusters) in Herefordshire (England), which forms part of a contract with the wider Fastershire programme.

The Fastershire scheme has so far helped to extend faster broadband to cover an additional 96,516 premises across both Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, although until now most of that work has been done via FTTC and some FTTP lines from Openreach and Gigaclear. The Hereforshire side of this hopes to achieve “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage of 97% by around the end of 2020 (here), compared with over 87% today.

However that still leaves some particularly challenging rural communities to suffer from slow connections in the county. Last year the local authority moved to resolve this by securing £5m from the Government’s Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme (RBIS), which is also being used to help support a new contract with Airband.

As part of that Airband intend to deploy their new RuralOptic technology, which mixes “full fibreFTTP with wireless connectivity. “Fibre optic cables are deployed to premises using existing overhead cables, and each fibre optic ‘network’ is supported by a high capacity wireless link. The process from initial enquiry to a fully operational RuralOptic superfast broadband connection takes just days or weeks,” said the ISP.

Martin Cumming, Airband’s RuralOptic Project Manager, said:

“Getting superfast fibre broadband to the harder-to-reach rural communities and businesses across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire will transform the opportunities and economic prospects for the area.”

The RuralOptic network has previously been said to be capable of delivering ultrafast broadband speeds of 100Mbps+, although at present their website only displays speeds of 30Mbps for residential users (these are largely based on their old fixed wireless network rather than the new RuralOptic approach).

UPDATE 2:48pm

On this roll-out Airband informs us that they anticipate to achieve 20,996 premises passed (of which around 4,500 or more will be in contract). The roll-out is scheduled to be complete by the end of Q3 2020.

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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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7 Responses
  1. Avatar AnotherTim

    Fastershire seem to be making a bit of progress in Hertfordshire – most of their recent press releases have been for Hertfordshire rather than Gloucestershire.
    The Gloucestershire areas are still waiting for the new Gigaclear schedule, which “will be published via the Fastershire website address checker later in March” – but since it is already the 35th March I’m not sure how much longer well need to wait.
    Gigaclear’s checker now says they are due to provide FTTP to 13,000 properties as part of the Fastershire rollout – but I’m sure the figure used to be more than that (that is equivalent to just the Lot2/Lot3c numbers).
    Personally I’d welcome a RuralOptic approach in my area rather than wait years for FTTP from Gigaclear.

  2. Avatar Mark

    We lost some of the fibre in our area, because of objections to the green cabinets in the streets, they were given a 24 hour ultimatum to find other locations, but residents said no, so Fastershire is incomplete here.

  3. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    I don’t understand this: “Fibre optic cables are deployed to premises using existing overhead cables…”. Surely it must be fibre to a transmitter which broadcasts to a receiver at the user’s home?

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      I think it is the other way around with the RuralOptic approach – there is a wireless link to a locality from where fibre is run to the premises. The problem in some rural areas isn’t connecting the individual properties, it is in getting the backhaul to the locality.

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