Arqiva, a communications infrastructure and media services company, and Alcatel-Lucent, today announced a Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology trial in the Preseli Mountains, West Wales. The trial is said to demonstrate the economic and technical viability of a neutral-host wireless network as a route to extending broadband Internet services to areas with no broadband coverage (‘notspots’) and those with speeds lower than 2Mbits/s throughout the UK, estimated at 10% of UK households.
This is the first live LTE trial in the UK to use the 800MHz spectrum freed up by digital TV switchover and can deliver speeds of over 50Mbit/s. The Preseli Mountains area has already switched to digital TV and combines low population density with dispersed communities, making it typical of areas that can’t be reached economically with the existing fixed networks.
Arqiva’s neutral-host network solution would offer wholesale access to all service providers and new entrants. This approach extends the reach of the fixed networks while at the same time maintaining competition at the service layer – ensuring that consumers retain choice and benefit from service innovation. Shared infrastructure, combined with a single network interconnect, provides the service provider with a far more cost-effective means of accessing a potential market of up to 2 million households.
Commenting on the announcement Lakh Jemmett, Alcatel-Lucent’s President, North Europe said: “LTE technology offers the potential to accelerate the availability of broadband services to individuals and businesses that do not have access to services that many of us take for granted. It also paves the way for access to a plethora of new applications.”
Steve Holebrook, Managing Director of Arqiva’s Government, Mobile & Enterprise business added: “Arqiva’s heritage in rolling-out projects of critical national infrastructure is matched by our long-standing commitment to providing solutions that are universal in their delivery. We firmly believe that the combination of LTE technology, the 800MHz spectrum and a neutral-host commercial model is the best way of providing rural communities with broadband quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.”
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), in line with Arqiva’s analysis, recently declared that universal broadband coverage cannot be solved by one technology alone, and recognised the ‘integral role’ that wireless will play.