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Wireless UK ISP Voneus to Battle TrueSpeed’s Full Fibre in Wells

Monday, December 9th, 2019 (1:20 pm) - Score 1,066

Fixed wireless broadband ISP Voneus, which recently secured £30m to help their wireless and fibre network target 900,000 UK premises (here), has today announced that they intend to cover the “whole” of the city of Wells in Somerset. The news comes only days after full fibre provider TrueSpeed said they’d cover the same city (here).

The City of Wells – home to a population of just 10,000 – is one of the UK’s smallest. According to Ofcom, approximately 1,000 of the 6,593 premises within the city’s limits still cannot access “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services and 41 buildings suffer connection speeds of less than 15Mbps (most of the city is covered by Openreach’s FTTC and there’s also a little “ultrafastG.fast and FTTP in places, but not much).

Suffice to say that we weren’t surprised to see TrueSpeed announcing their intention last week to cover 6,000 homes and 1,000 businesses in Wells, not least since it’s quite close to their existing fibre. Despite this Voneus has today announced their intention to roll-out a superfast wireless network to the “whole” of the same city, which further down the road may struggle against TrueSpeed’s 1Gbps capable fibre optic network.

In order to do this Voneus have agreed a partnership with Wells Cathedral, which has enabled them to install a small and unobtrusive transmitter on the top of the Cathedral’s tower (at 55 metres this is the highest point in the city). This means they can now beam broadband with “uncontended” speeds of up to 50Mbps to any home (or 100Mbps for businesses) with a direct line of sight.

Steve Leighton, CEO of Voneus, said:

“We’re delighted to be working alongside Wells Cathedral to bring superfast broadband to the homes and local businesses of Wells, as well as to the Cathedral itself. This project is a fantastic example of the important role church buildings can play in connecting communities suffering from poor broadband coverage.”

As part of this project the Cathedral – a Grade I listed building that dates back to the 1176 – has started to transform the experiences of employees, members of the congregation and visitors alike, not least by making high-speed WiFi available throughout the Cathedral and its grounds.

Voneus also worked closely with Cathedral authorities, as well as Historical England, to ensure that its fixed wireless broadband infrastructure is environmentally sympathetic to the Grade I listed building as well as to the wider city. The transmitter installed on top of the Cathedral tower is almost invisible to the naked eye and has been specially designed to blend into the fabric of the building.

We suspect that the main advantage that Voneus has over TrueSpeed, at least for now, is the fact that they’ve already deployed their main service, while to lay fibre optic cables down every street is going to take significantly longer to complete and be many times more expensive.

We should point out that Voneus is an authorised supplier – and the only nationwide wireless broadband provider – included on the Church of England’s Parish Buying scheme. Cathedrals, churches and other religious buildings located in communities with poor connection speeds can find out how to bring unobtrusive, environmentally sensitive superfast broadband to their buildings and communities by visiting: https://www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/phone-and-broadband/wireless-community-broadband .

UPDATE 3:12pm

We asked Steve Leighton for his thoughts on TrueSpeed’s plans and here’s what he said.

Steve Leighton said:

“While Truespeed has announced that it does plan to extend its network, we haven’t seen any definitive dates about when its services will be available or indeed whether the build out has started. In contrast, Voneus service is available now. Any home or business within direct line of sight with the Wells Cathedral tower can get Superfast broadband immediately.”

Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Mark

    In the video, the guy says their Gigabit Fibre can support 200-
    to 300 people, but then article states uncontended 50Mbps

    So it’s either 20 users uncontended or it’s 200 @ 50Mbps it can’t be both?

    • Avatar A_Builder

      That isn’t that different to OR GPON ratios of 80Mb/s….

      So I would guess it is GPON (1-2.5Gb/s backhaul) based and not XGSGPON (10Gb/s backhaul) – but upgrading once the fibre is in place is pretty doable.

      I don’t pretend to understand the business dynamics of this but I hope they have a rapid payback period otherwise the FTTP vendors will eat them for breakfast on reliability and bandwidth.

    • @Mark. The fibre is backhaul capacity for their wireless network, it’s not the speed end-users are offered.

  2. Avatar Wells local

    Great news but I wish they would sort out the mobile reception out in Wells. It’s been awful for years due to NIMBY groups protesting at any kind of Masts being put up.

    I grew up there and remember having to leave my 3310 in the window sill to receive txt messages. 20 years on when I visit my mum in the same house I again leave my smart phone in the window sill to receive calls or texts.

  3. Avatar Fred

    Well, I live just up the hill from Wells and was using Voneus FWA in Priddy. I cancelled and switched to Vfe 4G (which today has been awful). Voneus have been OK for me but they failed to connect up lots of people in Priddy. Speeds were very variable – I got 45Mbps but others on the same relay got 20Mbps? Overall I was happy with Voneus.

    Truespeed on the other hand are too expensive and too restrictive. I hate it that you have to pay through the nose to get a static IP address by signing up to their home worker package. Truespeed are coming to Priddy in April’ish and I suspect I will sign up (but use Andrews and Arnolds L2TP service for incomming connections).

    It is odd though, Voneus had said they would roll out FTTP in Priddy but thet all went rather quiet. They are very dissorganized.

    F

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