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Quickline Claim UK First with Launch of 5G Standalone Broadband UPDATE

Monday, February 14th, 2022 (11:39 am) - Score 3,168
Quickline CEO Sean Royce in Rural UK Field

Broadband ISP Quickline has today claimed to be the “first” company in the UK to offer Standalone 5G (SA) technology, which will be used to bring superfast and ultrafast broadband speeds to rural areas. The first services will offer speeds of up to 450Mbps, but there are “plans” to hit “gigabit capability” by summer 2022.

At present, existing 5G deployments in the UK are actually using Non-Standalone (NSA) hardware and systems, which can still deliver impressive mobile broadband speeds but remain aided by existing 4G services. But the adoption of a pure end-to-end 5G network (SA) could result in various improvements, such as ultra-low latency times (fast), network slicing capabilities and better support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices etc.

Quickline said they will be delivering 5G SA to both new and existing customers, across Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and beyond, which they said “means residents and businesses will be able to achieve speeds of up to 450 mbps, with plans to increase to gigabit capability by the summer.”

However, the announcement doesn’t name any specific deployment locations, and it’s worth pointing out that Vodafone went live in parts of London, Manchester and Cardiff during June 2021 with their own 5G SA pilots (here) – that move followed the summer 2020 trial at Coventry University. As such, Quickline aren’t strictly speaking the “first”, but it depends on how they define that.

Sean Royce, Quickline CEO, said:

“As technical innovators, this UK first is fantastic news not only for us at Quickline, but also for our customers. When other companies talk about offering 5G, they mean adding another layer to their legacy network. What we are doing is building a completely fresh network, with leading edge solutions which are not hindered by legacy technologies allowing us to be more agile and adaptive to customer needs. Our network also leaves a much lower carbon footprint.

This underlines our core belief that having reliable access to the internet is for everyone, no matter where you live or work. It certainly shouldn’t be based on geography. Bringing superfast and ultrafast speeds to towns and cities is expected – but what we’re doing is engaging with communities in isolated, rural areas that have, up to now, had unacceptable broadband connectivity – and we’re thrilled to be able to even up this digital divide.”

The announcement itself is extremely vague, although we assume that Quickline are deploying a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband network, which is something they’ve done before (albeit not using 5G SA technology), and not moving to introduce a fifth primary mobile network operator into the UK market (highly unlikely).

Equally, it’s unclear from the announcement whether they will be sharing spectrum (Ofcom’s shared access licences) with existing operators or harnessing different bands for their 5G New Radio technology. We have asked and will report back later.

The ISP is currently being supported by investment from Northleaf Capital Partners, which acquired the company in June 2021 and is fuelling their ambition to cover 500,000 UK premises via a mix of “full fibre” (FTTP) and FWA broadband infrastructure (here). But oddly, the latest press release makes no mention of this coverage goal.

UPDATE 15th Feb 2022

Quickline has confirmed that they are indeed building a FWA broadband network, which is leveraging the N77 Shared Access Licence from Ofcom via an OpenRAN approach (n77 tends to mean the 3GPP New Radio band for 3.3 to 4.2GHz). At present they have 12 live 5G FWA sites across North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lincs, but they didn’t name any specific locations in those counties.

Ian Smith, Quickline’s CTO, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Quickline is building a 5G SA O-RAN 7.2x Split network to provide rural connectivity in hard to reach areas. We are using the N77 Shared Access band to deliver services to under-served rural communities. Building an O-RAN 5G network has many performance benefits and supports the government’s levelling up and Telecoms Diversification agendas. It also facilitates a greener footprint as we are able to split the Distributed Unit and the Radio Unit to aggregate many of the workloads in a virtualized RAN environment reducing the amount of equipment on a per site basis.”​

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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
6 Responses
  1. Mark Jackson says:

    Three UK currently do it from £14 per month.

  2. Peter Gradwell says:

    There isn’t much main operator coverage in the places quickline is covering!

    And there are already 5 UK full operator members of the GSMA. (Telet research is the 5th http://www.teletresearch.com). GSMA website is a bit rubbish but you can see it there under “U”. https://www.gsma.com/membership/membership-types/operator-membership/.

    We have some trial of our SIMs out and about in Coverdale (on the quickline network) at the moment.

    1. Bob Evans says:

      Lots of claims for 5G Broadband but bandwith will be a serious problem once they have more yjan ahandful of users

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      All the telco’s are currently incapable of providing enough bandwidth to NSA 5G, so the Stand alone will suffer an even worse fate unless they provide the REAL back-haul that is needed. IMHO none of them have the chops to seriously implement a working solution, because it’ll be able to con everyone about how fast 6G will be by that point.

  3. natalijonas says:

    wow what a horrible provider they live in the cave if they expect people to pay £300 for installation fee. And speeds like in african islands 25mbps download/15 upload mbps £60 monthly you have to be joking right.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      @natalijonas, I believe those prices are for their old FWA network. You’ll get much cheaper prices if you’re in one of their gigabit-capable FTTP and newer FWA (5G or otherwise) network areas.

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