Fixed wireless access deployed in UK

A UK consortium including Cambridge Broadband Limited has been awarded a contract by the UK Radiocommunications Agency to deploy a fixed wireless access network in the 3.5GHz band.

A UK consortium including Cambridge Broadband Limited has been awarded a contract by the UK Radiocommunications Agency to deploy a fixed wireless access network in the 3.5GHz band using its VectaStar 3500 technology.

The project is funded by the Radiocommunications Agency as part of its Spectrum Efficiency Scheme, and the results will be made publicly available to help all potential operators of these services.

The consortium aims to characterise the operation of commercial FWA systems, from initial deployment using in-band wireless backhaul, through to network optimisation for optical backhaul. It will investigate issues such as building for growth, multi-operator boundary planning, rural access, and integration with WiFi networks and hotspots.

Peter Wharton, Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Broadband, explains: ‘Until now, the 3.5GHz spectrum band has not been available for high-performance broadband networks in the UK, and this project will help demonstrate a workable business case to licensees.’

During the course of the nine-month project, a total of five base stations and more than 50 customer premises equipment (CPE) terminals will be deployed. The network will cover urban, suburban and rural geographies in Cambridge and the surrounding areas, and the VectaStar equipment will be deployed in a variety of configurations. As well as being used in a conventional point-to-multipoint configuration, a number of CPEs will be used as WiFi base stations. VectaStar will then be used in a point-to-point configuration to backhaul traffic from these WiFi hot spots. This means that operators can manage their entire network from the end users through to the wide area network.

John Porter, Chief Technical Officer at Cambridge Broadband, comments: ‘We aim to identify the issues that are critical to success for operators. The project will have real end users, with real traffic going to and from an ISP and we will be maintaining a detailed database of instantaneous traffic flows, radio equalisation and other parameters across the entire network.’

The two other project partners are the Laboratory for Communication Engineering in the University of Cambridge Engineering Department, and Cambridge-based independent consulting and research company Cotares Limited. Cotares will manage all aspects of the project including installation, the research programme, and decommissioning. The Laboratory for Communication Engineering will analyse the information gathered in the course of the project and develop models so that it can be applied to new situations.

The project is expected to start immediately, and results will be available in early 2004.

Note: The UK Radiocommunications Agency is an Executive Agency of the UK Department of Trade and Industry. It is responsible for the management of the non-military radio spectrum in the UK, which involves international representation, commissioning research, allocating spectrum and licensing its use, and keeping the radio spectrum clean. It is one of the five regulatory bodies which will merge to form Ofcom towards the end of 2003.