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Over 100 Bolton Residents Protest 50ft IXWireless Broadband Mast

Wednesday, Mar 8th, 2023 (9:57 am) - Score 4,488
IX Wireless Mast in Blackburn

Blackburn-based network operator IX Wireless, which is building a new gigabit-capable wireless broadband network for UK ISP 6G Internet (NOT related to 6G mobile), has faced criticism after over a hundred residents in part of Bolton came out to protest against their installation of another 15 metre high metal pole (mast).

The operator, which has previously spoken of an aspiration to cover 250,000 UK premises with their new network by the end of 2021 (we don’t know how far they’ve got) – rising to 4 million by 2025 (here), has so far been conducting most of their rollout across several towns and cities (Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston etc.) across the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas.

PICTURED – TOP: A similar metal IXW pole mast in Blackburn, including its accompanying street cabinet for the fibre backhaul.

However, the network they’re building does typically require the deployment of some fairly thick 50ft (15m) tall metal pole masts (regular wood poles are normally around 6-10m and slimmer), which has on a number of occasions attracted complaints from members of nearby communities; especially those in locations where network cables have traditionally all been run underground.

According to the Daily Mail, more than a hundred residents in part of Bolton recently came out on the street to protest against the installation of such poles, which have been described as having all the cosmetic appeal of a “horrific rocket launcher“. The protest also included residents from other areas too, where the same masts have been erected, which protestors complain has often occurred without prior consultation.

Poles like this are typically built using Permitted Development (PD) rights, which means they don’t have to go through the usual planning process and can pop up quite quickly, often without residents getting much of a say, which adds to the frustrations of those who oppose them. Operators usually only need to give the most minimal of prior notices about this (e.g. sticking a notice to a lamp post), which are easily missed.

But in fairness, IXW’s new masts don’t need to play host to all the ugly overhead cables that would normally adorn the poles used by other fixed line networks.

A Spokesperson for IX Wireless said:

“The network delivers gigabit capable broadband services at a fraction of the cost of other broadband providers. The roll out enables us to provide cheaper broadband to communities across the region.

The industry is heavily regulated and all structures go through stringent tests and conform to industry standards. This also goes for the placement of the poles and the local council is aware of any work being undertaken.

Of course we are keen to improve our communications where we can, and in many towns and cities we have weekly meetings with council executives and elected officials to help resolve and communication issues. It is our intention to look at sites within the vicinity that are being highlighted and see how we can improve our service to local residents.”

We should point out that, at present, the fastest residential broadband package available on 6G Internet‘s site is not a “gigabit capable” (1Gbps+) service or anything like it. But they do offer download speeds of 100Mbps and free installation for just £26.99 per month (currently discounted to £9.99 per month for the first 6 months of service) on a 24-month term. This is fairly competitive on price, albeit in a similar ballpark to the cost of some 80-100Mbps FTTC/P plans on rival networks.

As hinted above. One catch here is that some of IX Wireless’ deployment locations, such as Bolton, already have rapidly growing coverage via gigabit speed broadband services from fixed line providers like Virgin Media (VMO2), Openreach and CityFibre. As such, it may be harder for IXW to argue that they’re solving a connectivity problem, since they aren’t the only one building and their rivals are currently able to offer much faster packages to homes.

The latest situation follows shortly after reports by LancsLive (here) and Sky News (here), which raised questions about an empty office at IXW’s registered Ribble House address and donations to 24 MPs “with no clear reason why” (according to Westminster Accounts, the donations totalled £138,000).

As for the pole situation in Bolton, it’s by no means the first time that IXW has faced complaints about their metal masts, but they do have that in common with almost every other operator that is deploying telecoms poles across the UK right now. A small group of MPs have even tabled the private Telecommunications Infrastructure (Consultation) Bill to tackle the issue (here). But that seems unlikely to get very far and if it did then it might delay the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband networks more broadly.

However, history does show that local protests do sometimes result in councils or operators being pressured into ordering the removal of such equipment, although it remains unclear whether that will be the outcome above.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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21 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Alex says:

    Not In My Bolton Yard

  2. Avatar photo Me says:

    Got to say if fibre is available in the area, then you don’t need wireless broadband unless it’s a mobile operator as it’ll never be as good. I can understand the protest in this case. People will just need to vote with their wallets.

    1. Avatar photo Polish Economic Migrant says:

      It can be cheaper than cheapest FO offer though. I have nothing against masts such like this, but what I am against dozens of overhead wires running in different directions.

  3. Avatar photo Richard Branston says:

    IXWireless could make it less ugly by installing a shroud around the bits at the top of the pole – or painting the pole black / dark grey / dark green.

  4. Avatar photo Reality Bytes says:

    I’m actually quite surprised it’s only 100 complaints. Seen far more for mobile masts.

    This strikes me as completely unnecessary street furniture. Were it 5G that’d be fine, but purely as a fixed line replacement in an area with ultrafast already and more build in progress seems unwise. It will provide an inferior service, a higher price and see very little uptake.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      It’s not “complaints” exactly, it’s a street protest for one specific site, so there are probably more complaints more widely. You usually have to anger people a fair bit to get that many out in protest these days.

  5. Avatar photo Sam P says:

    Lol. Poles like this should be the least of their worries. I often work in Bolton and it’s one of the ugliest most depressing cities I’ve been in. Fair enough though, they have every right to protest.

  6. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    To be fair it is really ugly and wireless internet isn’t needed in a built up area where good fixed line options exist. 6G internet’s max speed is 100mbps anyway so not that much higher than VDSL.

  7. Avatar photo Justin says:

    “Gigabit capable” but they only offer 100Mbps.

    XGS-PON and 25G-PON provider rolls on floor laughing.

    1. Avatar photo John says:

      laughing while pulling their cables from wooden poles like in 60s because it is cheaper and to offer asymmetric speeds like 900/150 for £80/mo

    2. Avatar photo Dad coved says:

      John I pay 30£ for gigabit symmetric and 10gigbit is expected by end of year

    3. Avatar photo John says:

      You are lucky Dad then 😉 I pay £58 for 300/300.

  8. Avatar photo NE555 says:

    They may come to rue the day that they chose “6G” for their name.

    Stick up a 15m tall mast with lots of microwave dishes on the top, with a cabinet next to it that says “6G” in big letters (as in the photo), and the tinfoil hat brigade will be up in arms.

  9. Avatar photo Mk says:

    I live in Bolton.

    We’re not a bunch of Luddites as some will have you believe.

    We welcome fast broadband. The thing is… we already have it. We’re 20 mins away from city centre Manchester not somewhere tucked away in a remote valley out in the sticks.

    Virgin, Sky and City Fibre all serve the town without the need to hoist fibre cable on wooden poles all around town.

  10. Avatar photo Peter says:

    There are much bigger issues than poles. Such as pot holes, more litter than plant life along road sides, crumbling public services, dilapidated schools,Cost of living etc.
    Just paint them pink or paint flowers on them and half the whining mobs will want selfies next to the poles while carrying “We love our pretty poles” banners.

  11. Avatar photo Ian Upton says:

    The company are failing on several levels –

    They are legally require to apply for Prior Approval for masts 15m or higher they are not doing that

    They are leaving some in a dangerous state – Ive got pictures of leaning poles hanging over pedstrian highways and roads

  12. Avatar photo Ethel Prunehat says:

    Street I used to live on has sprouted a load of these enormous wooden poles.
    When it was built in 2010, BT made the effort to bury the services underground, then IX Wireless come along and un-do their hard work.
    The IX poles are noticeably taller than the BT ones.
    When they inevitably go bust, who is going to foot the bill for removing them/maintaining them?

  13. Avatar photo Sandy Shores says:

    Have a look at FB group… Residents against IX Wireless Ltd

  14. Avatar photo Kool says:

    I wonder if theyll end up closing shop & selling the sites to a mobile network operator.

  15. Avatar photo Nigel Hardy says:

    You also need a dish on your property as well!!

  16. Avatar photo Tim Drake says:

    “But in fairness, IXW’s new masts don’t need to play host to all the ugly overhead cables that would normally adorn the poles used by other fixed line networks.” But all the (mostly) wooden telegraph poles that are used to transport the fibreoptic cable to the network of transmitter masts do play host to all the ugly overhead cables that are attached to them.

Comments are closed

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