Several homes in the tiny rural Monmouthshire (Wales) village of Llanddewi Rhydderch can now access broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps thanks to a new 5G style trial, which has been supported by funding from the UK Government alongside solutions from Broadway Partners and Cambridge Communication Systems.
Until now residents of the village have had to suffer broadband speeds of less than 1Mbps. But the community’s remote location has also made it a target for part of the Government’s wider £2.1m 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT), which was announced a year ago (here).
The Pilot, which is being delivered by Broadway Partners, uses a 60GHz “mesh” radio technology developed by CCS to reach hard-to-connect properties that have, until now, had no other option than to suffer with a slow and buffering connection. Each property had one of the company’s Metnet 60G Mesh radios attached.
The units themselves operate in the unlicensed mmWave spectrum band from 57GHz to 71GHz and are technically capable of ultra-high capacity up to 12Gbps (at very.. close range). On top of that they also appear to be compatible with the 802.11ad WiFi (Wi-Gig) standard, which is normally used for short range indoor communications.
Sara Jones, Monmouthshire County Councillor, said:
“Monmouthshire is renowned for its natural beauty and its appeal as a place to live and play. With the success of this 5G pilot trial, it will become an attractive location for modern businesses to locate, given the quality of its digital infrastructure and the council’s commitment to embracing innovation.”
Margot James MP, UK Digital Minister, added:
“Through our modern industrial strategy we are building a 5G Britain fit for the future, keeping communities connected in a digital world. Our 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is helping to make sure that rural areas like Monmouthshire are not left behind and can also see the benefits of new 5G technology.”
The exact setup of the trial is unclear, with the announcement offering only the most basic of details, but in order to get a speed of 1Gbps via the 60GHz band we assume the main distribution point can’t be more than several hundred metres away from the homes it needs to connect (a longer range Microwave relay appears to exist on top of a local farm building).
Sadly there’s no information on service tiers, price or deployment costs and these will be key considerations for any similar deployments in the future. Some of the kit being used doesn’t look terribly cheap, although it may well be more affordable than building a new fixed line infrastructure into the area.