Southwest England – Bristol firms are to be the first in the UK to be offered a new wireless broadband service known as Wimax. Until now, businesses that needed broadband in the UK have been limited by BT’s effective monopoly over the last mile — their only choice is between the restricted bandwidth of copper wire DSL and the high cost and slow delivery of fibre-based services. Wimax, on the other hand, can support data transmission at speeds of up to 10Mb a second, or 20 times faster than the conventional 512kb/s available over BT’s copper wires.
Libera, the small firm behind the Bristol service, is initially targeting firms that already have their own lines leased from telecoms suppliers. Libera will charge £299 a month, plus £495 for installation, which is much higher than retail broadband prices.
Bristol is their first trial market, but various engineering and marketing trials are currently being conducted following which a national rollout will commence in early 2005 to over 50 cities and towns throughout the UK, with an ultimate goal to cover 75% of all UK business.
Robert Condon, Libera’s chief executive, said his prices were competitive with the comparable product from BT. “We know that businesses need high-quality broadband services.”
Condon said Libera covered the whole of Bristol from one radio mast, and is seeking planning permission to extend its services in London, starting in the Heathrow area.
Condon, previously involved in Atlantic Telecom, is also seeking £10m of funding with the help of Cobalt Corporate Finance, which would be sufficient for Libera to establish its first 50 sites.
Wimax could take business away from the mobile-phone companies that have spent billions developing “third-generation” services, which are much slower than Wimax.