back to article UK's first 4G network just switched on - and it's not from EE

While EE's 4G mobile network won't be switched on until the end of October, Blighty's other 4G network went live over the weekend. ISP UK Broadband uses 4G LTE to beam high-speed internet connectivity wirelessly to homes and offices. However its coverage is limited to Southwark, Reading and Swindon, so the plan is to compete …


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  2. jonathanb Silver badge

    They have been around for ages

    Certainly they were around in 1998 when I moved here. They were known as Tele2 at that time. Then they became Netvigator, and now they are Now. It has never really been that popular because it isn't that competitive against the various options available that connect via various types of cable.

  3. James 51

    Perhaps BT should have a legal obligation to provide a certain level of service to every property in the UK as the post office does.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      I think it does...

      But only 9.6k

  4. Anna Logg

    well good luck anyway

    Nobody from Ionica onwards has made wireless broadband access work financially, but maybe now is the time when the finances finally work out. Maybe.

    1. naylorjs

      Re: well good luck anyway

      Nonsense, W3Z has been going since 2003 and is doing very nicely,

      The difference is that it was founded by people who understood the RF side properly, and not by computer geeks. I was their first computer geek :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: well good luck anyway

      I'm very sorry for downvoting you. I have trouble separating facts from opinion so often downvote people who are just making valid, sometimes even self evident points.

      I have no idea why I do it, must be an idiot. :P

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: well good luck anyway

      The reasons for Ionica's failure are more to do with practical business matters, namely business model (it was set up as a telephone/voice carrier rather than as a data carrier), funding, cashflow and burn rate, rather than the use of wide-area wireless specifically.

      With respect to data service specifics. When Ionica was launched in 1991, the new dial-up modems released that year supported 14.4kbps, and was then increased in increments to 56kbps in 1998; when Ionica went into administration. So throughout this period, Ionica's 64kbps ISDN based data service was the best and most affordable consumers could get (although I wouldn't say it was cheap!). It was in 2000 ie. a couple of years after the failure of Ionica, that BT and the various cable operators launched ADSL services; giving consumers download speeds of 512kbps and higher.

      Yes a major deployment problem Ionica encountered was achieving connectivity in high density areas, where antenna placement and getting near line of sight alignment was problemmatic.

      What is clear, is that there is much to be learnt from Ionica that is still applicable today.

      I seem to remember there was another wireless telco around the same time that focused on a couple of northern towns rather than wide geographic areas and did much better, although I do not know if they are still around.

  5. Austin Montego

    A minor nit-pick but Ionica was for telephone calls only, not broadband.

    They had problems all of their own, including lack of base station capacity and the expense of building a line of sight transmitter network with voice calls and line rental as the only way to pay it back, at the same time as a boom in the number of alternative providers available over BT lines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ionica promised faster than dialup

      Ionica promised ISDN-like capabilities, which at the time might nearly have classed as broadband (BT at one point wanted to sell something ISDN-based called BT Midband).

      Whether they ever delivered is a different question. Whether PCCW will ever deliver anything useful is also an interesting question.

  6. David 53
    Black Helicopters

    Huawei backed project

    UK Broadband (PCCW - Chinese) with Huawei infrastructure (Chinese).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two points here ....someone quoted a wireless company called Ionica who was charging for line rental - that does not sound kosher at all. Second point is that ADSL could be a lot cheaper if users were not forced to pay for POTS as well. Obviously you do not have to have voice on the line if you don't want it so the charge for a dry-pair should be a lot cheaper. Most people have mobile phones anyway and VoIP is so easy to use these days there is no justification for compulsory voice is just another BT imposition. The provision of a dry-pair is standard practice in some countries so why not here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Naked DSL - better off dreaming about going out with Beyonce

      Seriously, Openreach give up its revenue stream to let users pay only half for a line?

    2. Austin Montego

      Ionica did indeed charge line rental: their service was marketed as a direct replacement for a landline. It was a fixed line style of service delivered at 3.5GHz using a network of line of sight base stations and little flat dishes on houses that are still visible in West Yorkshire, East Anglia and the West Midlands.

    3. HMB

      Forced Product Bundling

      I've upvoted you on the POTS thing, I couldn't agree more about BT's forced bundling, but what's this about Ionica and kosher? You can't expect a company to pay for a wireless infrastructure with a few pennies per minute phone calls. It was all some time back now anyhow.

      Back to Naked DSL...

      BT forcing people to buy things they don't want makes BT look more competitive and less rubbish. It's dishonest, misleading and wrong. However, those in power don't want people to be even more frustrated with the choices they have.

      It's good people handling just to let this forced bundling slide and not talk about it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    some ref. might be helpful

    like this link:

    but then, hey, Southwark is a large area. So when I fed them the details (real details, close to my home, but not mine), and I do happen to live more or less in the middle of said (sad?) Southwark, I am greeted with the usual "sorry, blah, blah, blah, unfnortunately unavailable, but do blah blah, come back, blah blah, blah.

    Then, the basics, i.e. what you get for what you pay for:

    Price (from 21.50), let's see...

    2 year's contract, fair enough. Browsing.. emailing... general light use. Uh-uh... ok, move on...

    23.50 for a year's contract. Plus 30 squid for set up fee, plus unspecified amount for the "nowBox" to connect

    25.50 for a monthly contract, plus 60 squid set up, plus the nowBox, fair enough.

    and then, the regular user and heavy user packages, etc.

    So... you get yourself a superfast (LTE) broadband, called "now lite". Lite... superfast... gotit? Kindof a ferrari with a 20 mph speed limiter, or a spoonful of fuel to run on, very helpful. And not a word (bullshit or otherwise), about their monthly caps, reasonable usage policy, traffic prioritizing.. oh, there:

    Our Premium service prioritizes traffic so that heavy users - gamers or those working from home, for example - can continue to benefit from the best speeds, even during peak times.

    All in all... thanks, but no thanks. Maybe when they mature a little, and get a coverage they claim to have, and get to be clear about what they offer for the money. In the meantime... eeeeee or something is coming, and their competitors are coming too. Probably good times to be choosey, for once.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "offering greater speeds at prices comparable to ADSL, especially if one remembers that no line rental will be needed. "

    Disappointed that there is no mention of what the latency is like. 40Mb/s is fine, but if it takes ~2 seconds to get a response from the server, that rules it out as suitable for gamers which are mentioned in the FAQ. High latency with SSH connections can also lead to annoying repeated characters - doubly annoying when entering passwords. Anyone using a 3G connection will likely have experienced this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      LTE latency is usually between 60ms-80ms. Perfectly fine for SSH, and decent for gaming.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Latency

        "LTE latency is usually between 60ms-80ms."


  10. Mike Dimmick

    In 3.5 GHz

    UK Broadband are licensed to use 3480-3500 MHz paired with 3580-3600 MHz, and 3605-3689 MHz paired with 3925-4009 MHz. LTE does have bands in this range, band 22 (3410-3490 MHz paired with 3510-3590 MHz, frequency-division duplexing) and bands 42 and 43 (3400 MHz to 3600 MHz, 3600 to 3800 MHz, time-division duplexing). You won't find much consumer equipment operating in these bands; a recent review for Ofcom at mentioned only UK Broadband's own equipment.

    It's certainly no use for mass-market mobile phones and tablets, which are expected to support probably 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz (i.e. bands 20, 3 and 7). The Ofcom report details which bands are supported by equipment already on the market, and on manufacturer roadmaps.

  11. Nifty Silver badge

    Try non-spots instead

    Trying to compete where there is already loads of competition? While at the same time there are non-spots all over the UK?

    Stay in a B&B in the Lake District, Wales, Scotland in any picturesque valley and you are lucky indeed to see broadband of any worthwhile speed. Talk to the B&B owner and you will hear tales of 'every time it goes down, it takes 5 days to get it fixed, so I cannot depend on it for my business, nice when it works though".

    If anyone turned up _there_ offering decent speeds and instant, reliable installation, more weatherproof than POTS lines, at under £50/month, hands would be bitten off.

    Plus some fantastic lines-of sight are possible with roof positioning of the consumer station.

    But some part of me thinks that if any one tried, the local powers-that-be abetted by incumbent dog-in-manger BT would block it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Try non-spots instead

      "Trying to compete where there is already loads of competition? While at the same time there are non-spots all over the UK?"

      PCCW's first attempt in the UK was in that well known notspot, the Thames Valley/M4 corridor.

      No I didn't understand it either. Not then, not now.

      I hope Ofcon have by now worked out that licences need a "use by" date on them, ie if there is no real visible sign of a service (as there wasn't with Netvigator), the licence is forfeited without compensation.

  12. h3

    When I was with tele2 at least you got a static ip.

  13. Oor Nonny-Muss

    Wait a minute...

    Could we not all club together in rural-land to plan loads of wireless... thus provoking BT to whip out their shovels and put fibre in the ground then retire the plans... then take those plans to the next village, rinse and repeat.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute...

      Been there, done it and failed to launch!

      The fundamental problems are price and commitment.

      People want higher speeds than BT but in general are not prepared to pay a premium over the mass market rates for it or commit to using a premium priced service for several years. Additionally, there is no requirement for Sky et al to offer their service over any infrastructure provider other than BT, so people will tend to stick with BT as the broadband comes as part of the package and gives them access to value added data services, albeit limited by being in a not spot.

      For a cost-effective not-spot deployment (remember not all not spots are rural) requires the majority of the residents to club together from the outset - so that necessary infrastructure can be purchased and deployed, and the start-up costs distributed across the most households (this helps to minimise the service premium). However, when you ask people for their financial contribution towards something that will take more than a few days to deliver, it is galling how many suddenly find that they can live with their existing poor service and will even resume their griping about the quality of the existing services ...

      An interesting exercise was the BT Race to Infinity (back in 2010) as it provided a reasonable yardstick of just how many households wanted faster broadband sufficiently to actually register their desire for it. Additionally, if you look at the communities that won it, they did so because of the commitment of a small team of highly motivated activists.

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