BroadbandNetworks

Openreach Drone Connects Remote Village To 1Gbps Broadband

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Welsh village considered too difficult to connect gets 1Gbps broadband

A remote Welsh village has been connected to broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps thanks to a drone.

Several properties in Pontfadog, near Llangollen, had so far been left out of superfast broadband schemes such as the publicly-funded Superfast Cymru initiative because they have been deemed too difficult

Traditional methods such as trenching and the deployment of streetside cabinets were unsuitable, while the location of the properties, located in a forest deep in Ceiriog Valley, meant wireless was not an option either.

Openreach Drone 1

Openreach drone broadband

Openreach said that even if they could use conventional methods, it would have taken days to deploy the fibre. However by using a drone to lay the cables, it took less than an hour.

“We managed to connect up virtually the whole village in the valley floor, but getting to this group of 20 houses up one side of the valley was a bit trickier,” said Openreach chief engineer Andy Whale.

“There’s a particularly steep drop-off from these houses back down the valley, and it’s covered in dense trees and scrubland. We also had the river running along the bottom to contend with, so dragging a cable and digging it in wasn’t really an option.

“If we tried running the cable through woods it was also very likely we’d get it caught up in branches and other natural obstructions, so we figured the best option was to fly it in over the top of the tree canopy and then lift it up to make sure it was clear of the tree line.”

Ninety-five percent of the UK will have access to superfast broadband by the end of this year, but the government’s new target is 98 percent and it now wants providers to invest in ‘full fibre’ ultrafast broadband that can deliver the 1Gbps that the villagers in Pontfadog can now enjoy.

At present, the Openreach superfast broadband network reaches more than 26.5 million properties and BT is also offering to build 10Mbps for anyone in the UK who demands it rather than be subjected to the proposed universal service obligation (USO).

Openreach will extend coverage using a mixture of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), fibre to the premise (FTTP) and fixed wireless access (FWA) technologies so 99 percent of the UK has access to 10Mbps by 2020. It is however likely most will enjoy significantly higher speeds.

However Openreach is now turning its attention to ‘ultrafast’ broadband, which would be achieved through a combination of G.Fast, which speeds up copper connections, and FTTP.

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