Telecoms regulator Ofcom UK has today proposed to grant Fibrewave Networks the power to “carry out street works” as part of its plan to roll-out a new rural fibre optic based superfast broadband ISP network in Cambridgeshire, which will initially cover the villages of Earith, Bluntisham and Colne.
According to Ofcom’s new consultation, Fibrewave plans to deploy a number of technological solutions over a phased process, ranging from point-to-point microwave links, installation of cabinets and fibre optic cabling, Fibre to the Home (FTTH) as well as having access to the BT network via their Physical infrastructure Access (PIA) offering, with a focus on East Anglia and the East Midlands. Fibrewave will operate as an ISP but will also be “offering connectivity over the last mile to other ISP’s” via a wholesale solution.
Similarly Fibrewave’s website states that its new network, which is expected to be rolled out “this summer“, will be “completely separate from the legacy BT copper network” and offer internet downloads speeds of up to 100Mbps (Megabits per second).
Fibrewave Networks (Initial Plan)
Approximately 4,500 residents in the villages of Earith, Bluntisham Colne are set to benefit from super-fast broadband this summer. Fibrewave Networks has announced that it shall be deploying a fibre optic broadband network covering the three villages offering download speeds of up to 40Mb/s and upload speeds of up to 10Mb/s initially with the prospect for faster speeds in the future too. Currently many residents of Bluntisham and Earith see download speeds of under 2Mb/s with Colne fairing a little better as it’s closer to the BT exchange.
Fibrewave shall be installing 5 small street cabinets in to which they will install broadband server equipment, effectively bringing the telephone exchange into the heart of the villages. The distance between the customer and the broadband server equipment will be reduced to hundreds of meters rather than thousands, as is currently the case from the BT exchange, meaning much faster speeds and a more reliable connection. The cabinets will be connected to the core of the internet using a 100% fibre optic network.
Interestingly Fibrewave’s fascinating project has already released preliminary details of its service prices. Customers will apparently pay from £14.99 per month [see below update] for their “base package“, which offers speeds of up to 10Mbps alongside a 15GB usage allowance. Customers can then add upgrades for faster speeds or greater usage allowances (e.g. 40Mbps speeds would cost an extra +£2 per month).
Ofcom’s consultation on its proposed changes will remain open until 10th September 2012, although such requests from smaller ISPs are rarely contested. It will be interesting to see whether or not BT now, as they’ve done before, suddenly takes more of an interest in the areas that Fibrewave intends to target.
Fibrewave’s Tim Warren has been in contact to clarify a few things, not least that the existing details on their website refer more to their current FTTC / Sub-Loop-Unbundled (SLU) service and not the newly proposed FTTP / FTTH platform upgrade that Ofcom is now consulting on. This explains why the website states max speeds of up to 40Mbps (true fibre can go a lot faster).
In other word’s Fibrewave’s prices and their “symmetrical” 100Mbps products for business and residential users have not yet been announced. Mr Warren also told us that they expect the final prices to “come more into alignment with the four big players” and will also be offering a voice service too. As usual we’ll post another article once the final information is known.