Posted Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 (10:13 am) by Mark Jackson
Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) provider Airband has officially submitted planning applications for a staggering 120 new “transmitter” (transceiver) stations, which will be used to spread superfast broadband across the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks.
The deployment, which was first announced last year (here) and aims to serve around 5,800 premises in the predominantly rural area, is funded by a public sector investment of £4.6 million. It also forms part of the wider Connecting Devon and Somerset project that has otherwise been rolling out fixed line “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) upgrades alongside BT (Openreach).
According to Somerset councillor David Hall (BBC), AirBand’s network is the “biggest wireless broadband project in England” (at least by transmitter count) and will cover an area of roughly 1,646 km squared using radio kit attached to masts or other buildings.
One advantage of the new network is that it won’t need to dig up lots of roads in order to lay new cables (at least not as many BT would require), which is useful in a National Park (residents don’t like a lot of disruption), and this also makes it both cheap and quicker to roll-out.
However the new application does include provision for some new masts, such as one that is 50 metres tall, as well as a few 25m masts and some averaging 12m. It’s entirely possible that some of these may not be greeted favourably by those in the local community, but AirBand intends to keep such masts to a minimum by putting most of their transmitters on existing structures, such as barns, telegraph poles and church towers.
AirBand claims that its new network will be able to offer Internet connectivity solutions from 2Mbps to over 1Gbps (1000Mbps), although we don’t yet know what their final packages will look like.
The ISP does offer some residential packages on their website, with prices starting from £10 per month (plus £150 installation) for an entry-level 10Mbps (1GB allowance) and rising to £35 for a 20Mbps package (100GB allowance), but some of their other networks offer different prices/speeds and so the above may not be indicative of Dartmoor and Exmoor.
In any case we may have to wait a little longer before the exact coverage details and package information can be confirmed.