TMCnet Feature
June 04, 2013

Airband to Provide High-speed Internet to Underserved Worcestershire Parishes

By Christopher Mohr, TMCnet Contributing Writer

In a campaign to bring broadband Internet to its sparsely populated parishes, Worcestershire County Council selected Airband Community Internet Ltd. to provide the service, which will feature Ethernet bridges and access points from Cambium Networks (News - Alert).

With a population of nearly 570,000, Worcestershire County is about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island. Fourteen parish communities in the county had earlier applied for a grant equivalent to $13 million and will receive the upgraded service.

Airband is based in Worcester, U.K. in Worcestershire County, and provides Internet and network services to retail and commercial customers. Also based in the U.K., Cambium Networks develops wireless hardware solutions for service providers.

The upgrade in the Worcestershire parishes will feature the PMP 450 access point and PTP 600 Ethernet bridge, both from Cambium Networks. Designed for service providers, the PMP 450 is capable of up to 90 Mbps data throughput and can increase network capacity substantially.

Cambium's PTP 600 comes in several different versions that operate in licensed and unlicensed bands of the spectrum as well as versions designed specifically for military and public safety applications. The PTP 600 does not require a line-of-sight configuration with its maximum range of 124 miles. Data rates are high performance with a maximum throughput of 300 Mbps.

As an already mobile world becomes more so, different solutions have been developed to allow previously underserved areas to access broadband service. One of the most popular solutions is the use of whiteband, the part of the television broadcast spectrum that became largely unused once television signals changed to digital a few years ago.

The decision by the Worcestershire County Council to work with Airband is not the least bit surprising as it appears to be another case of a government wanting to work with a local company.

According to councilor Simon Geraghty, the upgrade so far is working out well: “We are already hearing about the better speeds and great feedback from these communities. The County Council made this funding available as we knew the difference this would make to local people and importantly, to businesses with making sure the county is open for business is an absolute priority. Working with the communities has been fantastic and it is great to hear about the difference that this is making for people living, working or running a business in these areas.”

So far, so good for Airband. The only question that remains to be answered is whether or not Airband will be able to meet what is expected to be a huge demand for mobile data two to three years from now. This is not a uniquely Airband problem, however, as many providers share the same concern.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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