Skip Navigation

Airband wins contract to deliver wireless to Exmoor and Dartmoor
Wednesday 01 July 2015 18:09:24 by Andrew Ferguson

This week is certainly a week when Devon and Somerset are dominating the news, as some £4.6m of public money has been awarded to deliver superfast broadband across Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The firm charged with delivering superfast broadband is AirBand and they will be utilising a fixed wireless network to serve some 5,800 premises by the end of 2016.

"We are delighted that Airband has been chosen to roll out superfast broadband across the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. They were selected for their innovative approach to delivering broadband in remote areas.

This contract announcement represents the next big step towards our aim of achieving 100% coverage across the region. By the end of 2016, many more homes and businesses across Dartmoor and Exmoor will be able to access superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps or more. People will be able to benefit from this innovative technology and faster internet connection speeds, enhancing their lives and productivity respectively."

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth for Devon County Council

The 5,800 premises represents around 1% of the premises in Devon and Somerset and should build on the existing phase 1 contract. Of course the main phase 2 contract will now have to wait for the open procurement process to complete, but given the previous concerns over speed of deployment, a leaning towards another fixed wireless solution or a mixed technology one looks very likely.

While there is no precise kit or frequency information apparently Airband are to deploy a solution "which is designed to overcome physical conditions such as trees, hills or structures". Speeds of radio solutions capable of 100 Mbps are mentioned, though it is not clear if this refers to per receiver or per sector on the mast.

"Our extensive knowledge of deploying services in the Welsh hills has given us experience and insight into dealing with the geographical challenges that we will come across in the National Parks and our use of a high proportion of existing structures and buildings to build a robust network will reduce planning issues and time lags for delivery. Our solution uses state of the art data radio technology with radios capable of up to 100Mbps in place of fibre, ensuring high speed connection where fibre is not available."

Redmond Peel, Managing Director of Airband


Posted by ahockings about 1 year ago
Don't know about 100Mbps.
A BDUK project in Little Witley only goes up to 30Mbps (achievable to 70% of users)
Still pretty good though if you currently have 1 meg!!
Posted by SlimJ about 1 year ago
£35 for 'up to' 20mbps service with 100gb usage, seems pricey to me for such a small amount of data?!
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
The big question is - if they can do it why not other counties.
Yes 100 down and 100 up is perfectly possible with fixed wireless, if you need it.
Also remember when you price check - there are no phone line charges.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The Little Whitley deployment is of kit capable of 125Mbps per sector, with PTP backhaul capable of 300Mbps.

Selling packages at a lower limit of 30 Mbps is only a sensible approach to tackling congestion over a shared medium.

100Mbps per sector is perfectly achievable... you just need to have enough sectors, on enough masts, to present a manageable number of properties sharing the sector.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
If you are currently paying 30 quid for an unreliable 0.4mb capped at 15gb a month then 35 quid a month for 100gb is very good value indeed and certainly good enough to support work from home which is the critical aspect.

Much credit to the local authority for putting the people they represent 1st and shooting for the 100% goal with urgency.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@Llety who is selling this 15GB package for £30 a month? Fixed line broadband may still have usage allowances with some providers, but unlimited is easily available.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Line rental about 16 pounds plus broadband about 16 quid is a little over 30 quid a month.

Past experience of Plusnet and Talktalk who provided much cheaper broadband has demonstrated that they are unable to get OpenReach to be effective when repairing a Broadband fault. BT seem to be. So much going for other providers is a false economy when the important part is getting faults repaired. Yes I know it should not be like that, but it is.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago

Total bargain if you are paying £75 a month for Satellite with typical 6Mbps down (supposed to be 20) and a 50Gb download limit!
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@Llety so which package are you talking about?

AAISP is 100GB and can put line rental wherever you like or use their bare rental at £10. Generally thought to be most active at getting faults resolved.
Posted by SlimJ about 1 year ago
@PhilCoates I agree and its better than a satelite service! Just most families are likely to go beyond that 100Gb of data fairly quickly once you have a superfast connection!
Posted by SlimJ about 1 year ago
I just hope they can deliver on their promise, I fear a proportion of the 5,800 properties will not get a service. Having been with VFast wireless for years until moving house, they were great IF you had a good LoS, but if you had a few trees in the way they just were not interested in helping in any way - pretty useless in fact.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
Thanks Andrew. What we pay BT, is a fraction of what we need to spend on 2 3G connections to back it up when it stops working (About 20% of the time). Why 2? they have different profiles as to when they work.
Posted by gah789 about 1 year ago
The big problem for Airband will be getting planning permission for all of the masts required to serve remote areas within National Parks. Some may want faster broadband but that won't stop others objecting while renting space on existing masts is usually uneconomic. I wonder what deal they have done about the use of public buildings & infrastructure.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
They can put their equipment on existing radio masts etc and also on prominent buildings as they say in their press release so it may be that planning won't be to much of a problem.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago

You'd hope a subsidised rollout pays that extra bit of attention to covering every property, rather than a commercial rollout doing just enough.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago

Spot on. Hopefully things will go like the North Yorks Moors, where plans bypassed full committee.

In the Yorkshire Dales, things weren't so smooth. 1 primary backhaul mast up on the hill was fine, but the three main distribution masts down in the village were stickier. Swapping to 2 year temporary permission helped, and in the end, there was only one dissenting voice on the committee. Even he could see how vital broadband was, and chose to abstain rather than vote against.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago

I'd agree, except your in a National Park... so you might find that other radio masts are rare anyway. And the buildings you might use could well be protected too.

The Airwave project in the Yorkshire Dales needed to use masts elevated above rooftop, rather than the sides of some buildings, because they had an aim to get to every property. That was enough to rule out that option...

And the need for PTP distribution dishes meant the masts had to be sturdy metal, rather than eco wood.
Posted by gah789 about 1 year ago

The economics of using existing masts are not attractive. Baseline 20% takeup, so ~1200 subscribers paying ~£25 net per month generating £360K per year. You will need at least 100 antennas at a minimum of £1,500 per year per antenna (including rates). That means that over 40% of your revenue is committed for this alone. Phone mast rentals are high, unlike the wayleaves paid by utilities for pylons or poles.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
I guess that the bottom line on this one is that the work is being commissioned by the guardians of the parks. The public money will partly be used to make the scheme as environmentally sound as possible.
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago

The base line take up will be a lot higher than 20% in areas of slow and not spots. Could be as high as 80% in some areas.
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.