Residents and businesses in Swindon, Southwark and Reading have become the first in the UK to experience superfast 4G broadband speeds, following the launch of a new wireless broadband network by Broadband UK.
The company has stolen a march on mobile network operator EE, whose 4G network is due to go live on 30 October – although the two companies are offering very different services.
UK Broadband's new 4G broadband service, called “now Broadband”, offers speeds of around 40Mbps via a home router without the need for a phone line.
Mobile devices can connect to the router via WiFi, and the router connects back to the network backbone via TD-LTE (a variant of the LTE wireless standard developed specifically to meet the growing demand for data capacity).
The LTE therefore replaces traditional fixed-line fibre links, hence UK Broadband's description of the service as “fibre through the air”.
While LTE promises internet at speeds typically five times faster than 3G speeds today, the WiFi connection can act as a bottleneck. But Philip Marnick, CTO of UK Broadband, told Techworld that speeds delivered by now Broadband will be “equivalent to BT's Infinity broadband service”.
“We are really excited to offer residents and businesses in these areas a unique opportunity to enjoy 4G speeds using our wireless networks. Our services offer a truly flexible, hassle free alternative to fixed line broadband services – whether it’s at home, work or a customer WiFi solution,” said Nicholas James, CEO at now Broadband.
“In terms of business benefits, this service can be either the primary superfast internet connection, or provide the secondary or resilient connection to ensure that local businesses and organisations are connected at all times.”
now Broadband offers four packages suitable for home and business needs – from light browsing and email to advanced packages suitable for on-demand services such as TV, gaming and business applications. Details of the packages are available here.
This is not the first time 4G has been available in Britain. Earlier this year, UK Broadband switched on a wholesale 4G network in Southwark, offering high-speed services for the public sector and big corporations, as well as providing backhaul for mobile networks.
“We just decided now we will sell direct to consumers, and this is a push forward. Our main business is really selling wholesale, and if people want to resell our services we're very happy to talk to them,” said Marnick.
UK Broadband’s 4G network is delivered over six 20MHz channels of spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands, which became part of the LTE standard in March 2011.