The UK government has revealed the names of eight firms that will each receive funding for trials of ultra-high speed broadband in a number rural areas across the country. With a GBP10 million (USD16.5 million) pot to disperse, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed the awards which range from GBP175,000 to GBP2 million. The eight winning suppliers are: AB Internet, which has been awarded GBP848,000 to develop the deployment of hybrid fixed/fixed-wireless technologies in Wales capable of delivering 50Mbps data speeds; Airwave, which will receive GBP1.56 million to explore a range of alternative platforms in North Yorkshire – Wi-Fi in the 2.4GHz band, point-to-point multipoint fixed-wireless in the 2.4GHz or 5.8GHz band, Long Term Evolution (LTE) small cells and TV ‘white space’; Avanti, which has been granted GBP886,000 to explore the rollout of a 30Mbps KA-band satellite wholesale platform in Northern Ireland and Scotland; Call Flow, which is awarded GBP1.19 million to develop a number of hybrid engineering techniques in Hampshire, including sub-loop unbundling, fibre deployments, fixed Wi-Fi and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP); Northumberland-based Cybermoor, which will take GBP450,000 to explore ways to finance social investment in FTTP and wireless platforms in the region; MLL, which will receive GPB958,000 for a feasibility study of a wholesale OSS/BSS platform to integrate and aggregate wireless networks in Kent; Quickline, which receives GBP2.05 million to explore a number of line of sight (LOS), near-LOS and non-LOS wireless initiatives in Lincolnshire; and Satellite Internet, which will get GBP175,000 to develop a KA-band satellite uplink/downlink backhaul solution covering Devon and Somerset.
In March this year the UK government announced that companies could now bid for funding which can be spent on testing ‘innovative ways to help take broadband to Britain’s most remote communities’. At the time, culture secretary Maria Miller was quoted as saying that the focus for the state has shifted to bringing connectivity to the hardest to reach premises, with the government’s broadband programme said to be on track to deliver superfast speeds to 95% of the UK by 2017, but also to ‘go beyond that to address the needs of the last 5%’. According to a DCMS press release, the fund is designed to enable a range of pilot projects to be run, with suppliers able to bid based on three different categories, those being: technology – seeing whether a technology that works can be used in remote areas; operating models – trying novel operating models such as joining smaller networks together into a common larger network; and financial – testing innovative public/private funding models that could bring in new investment. The nationwide rollout of superfast broadband in the UK is currently accelerating, with more than 20,000 new premises being hooked up per week, up from 10,000 per week in April this year.