UK Broadband inaugurates LTE network

1 Mar 2012

Hong Kong-based PCCW’s British broadband unit, UK Broadband (UKB), has announced the switch-on of what it claims is not only the UK’s first Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployment, but also the first Time Division LTE (TD-LTE) 3.5GHz deployment in the world. The operator has revealed that it plans to operate on a wholesale basis, noting that it is currently working with partners with a view to inaugurating commercial services from May 2012 to businesses, consumers and the public sector. Initially the network will cover the Southbank and Borough areas of Southwark, a district of Central London.

In detailing the network itself, UKB confirmed that it is rolling out infrastructure using a TD-LTE solution provided by Chinese vendor Huawei, with the network to use the 124MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands that UKB currently holds. According to the operator, the setup will allow for the deployment of 6×20MHz-wide channels that it says will enable it to ‘deliver LTE Advanced speeds and enough capacity across the network to deliver Next Generation Access superfast broadband speeds to a large number of users simultaneously’. The first wave of devices for use on the network, which have been jointly developed by UKB and Huawei, include indoor and outdoor units for high-speed wireless broadband to homes and businesses within the coverage area. Looking ahead, multi-mode mobile devices supporting TD-LTE, FD-LTE and 3G will reportedly be available from September 2012.

Commenting on the development, Nicholas James, UKB’s CEO, said: ‘We’re very excited to be switching on our first TD-LTE system in the UK using our 4G spectrum’.

The network rollout falls in line with plans previously reported by CommsUpdate. In June 2011 it was revealed that UKB had kick-started rollout preparations with a view to launching in 2012. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, UKB owns the only national 3.5GHz WiMAX-capable spectrum licence in the UK, having won 13 of the 15 available regional fixed wireless concessions in June 2003, paying a total of GBP6.295 million (USD10.4 million) for 2×20MHz of spectrum before going on to acquire the other two successful bidders, Public Hub and Red Spectrum, which held one regional licence each, giving it a nationwide footprint. In June 2007 the regulator Ofcom announced that it would amend UK Broadband’s concession to allow it to offer mobile as well as fixed wireless broadband services, and three years later, in June 2010 the operator purchased additional fixed WiMAX broadband wireless radio spectrum from the Daisy Group for a cash price of GBP12.5 million.