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4G Based Broadband ISP Haven Wireless Closing Service in Wales

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 (4:15 pm) - Score 2,232
rural countryside broadband uk isp

A little known ISP called Haven Wireless, which helped to connect rural homes in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire (Wales) by harnessing a mobile broadband connection from EE (BT) and other operators, is set to close on 31st March 2021 after running into “acute capacity issues on the frequencies used by the 4G masts covering our area.”

The way such operators work is that they piggyback off the major mobile networks, albeit while offering a professional antenna and 4G router install to help achieve a stronger signal than would ordinarily be possible (they can also sell custom data plans). We don’t tend to consider such providers to be true ISPs (they’re arguably more akin to resellers), but they can still offer some value, even if a DIY approach might achieve similar results (here).

NOTE: The hardware costs were previously covered by the Welsh Government’s Access Cymru Broadband (ABC) voucher scheme.

In this case Haven were selling the choice of either an unlimited data service from O2 and Vodafone for £40 per month or a capped data plan from EE – starting at £25 per month for 100GB and going up to 500GB for £55 – with “unrestricted speeds” on both (i.e. they couldn’t really promise a specific speed since mobile connectivity is far too variable).

However, customers on this service have now been informed that the provider is due to close, which is expected to occur on 31st March 2021. We’ve pasted an extract below from the letter that was received by one of their subscribers, Lawrence Leask, who kindly shared it with us.

Haven Wireless Letter

During 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic changed the way that people use their home broadband connections. There are now more people relying on a good, stable internet connection at home than ever before and this has unfortunately led to some acute capacity issues on the frequencies used by the 4G masts covering our area.

During recent months, this has led to an increasing number of Haven Wireless customers who have been unable to access the reliable and fast connection they deserve. We share the frustrations of these customers and have tried everything in our power to resolve the problems, including liaising with the 4G network providers at an executive level and working with an MP to flag the issue nationally.

Alongside the equipment manufacturers, we have conducted a significant amount of testing on the 4G routers we have provided and, for the avoidance of any doubt, there is no problem with this equipment. We have therefore exhausted every possible option available to us and this has left us in a situation whereby we are unable to consistently provide the gold standard of support we aspire to.

Sadly, this has led us to consider some difficult options regarding the future of our Haven Wireless business. I regret to inform you that we have decided to withdraw from the consumer broadband market.

The customer we spoke to had also raised the matter with their local authority and they, in turn, had raised it with EE. In response EE said they “do not believe the issues that customers have been experiencing are due to network congestion caused by increased usage.”

Instead, EE suggested that the kit supplied by Haven Wireless had, according to their testing, been using the 800MHz band, which is good for coverage but poor for data speeds (only 5MHz of spectrum was used in the area) in a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) environment. But a spokesperson for Haven told us it is “categorically not correct that we were only using the 800MHz band for our service.”

However, EE added that they were willing to work with Haven in order to encourage use of the 1800MHz band instead (where viable), which they suggested could produce better results. But of course, it’s a little bit too late for all that now. According to the customer we spoke with, Haven supplied the Micotik SXT R / R11e-LTE6 hardware, which should be able to harness several 4G bands (i.e. not restricted to just 800MHz).

A Spokesperson for Haven Wireless told ISPreview.co.uk:

“It is categorically not correct that we were only using the 800MHz band for our service, and it is disappointing that you have been told this. We have deployed equipment which will use the 800MHz band where the 1800MHz band offers an insufficiently stable service (as part of the Carrier Aggregation technology) but the devices have been configured to be weighted towards the 1800MHz band wherever this is deemed to offer the best service to end users.

We have decided to withdraw from the consumer broadband market for commercial reasons. There are a number of alternative companies offering 4G broadband and fixed wireless in our area, and we have been working directly with all affected customers to ensure a smooth transition to other providers. The closure of the Haven Wireless brand will not result in any job losses and all team members are being redeployed to other areas of our business.”

The one bit of good news is that the 4G receiver and router that was provided by the ISP will remain the customer’s property (it’s not locked down), which means that there’s nothing stopping anybody who has had this installed from using a different mobile SIM with one of the major mobile operators (these days they all have unlimited data plans as options).

Otherwise, locals will have to go back to waiting for fibre to arrive, whenever that may be.

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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.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar Michael V says:

    That’s disappointing for the customers. If they really had just one block of 5mhz in use then no wonder capacity was an issue. That was really bad planning, whether on 800 or 1800mhz bands.
    It is a positive that they can keep the 4G WiFi hubs for use on other MNOs or MVNOs.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      EE Only have a total of 10MHz in the 800MHz band, but 90MHz in the 1800MHz band.

    2. Avatar Michael V says:

      Yeah good point. I know they don’t have much in 800mhz.

  2. Avatar Paul. says:

    It amuses me when comapnies talk about supplying the service that customers “deserve”. I’d imagine some of Haven’s customers are getting exactly what they “deserve. 🙂

    1. Avatar Paul. says:

      Jeez, I checked that and missed two typos.

    2. Avatar lol says:

      Paul, what do you mean customers deserve?

  3. Avatar Mack says:

    I’ve noticed even EE’s service has declined since the beginning of the lockdown, lack of FTTP coverage is a real problem.

  4. Avatar Nat says:

    Haven Wireless is/was operated by West Wales Systems Ltd.

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