BT trials 80Mbps ‘wireless to the cabinet’ broadband on Rathlin Island

4 Jul 2013

Pictured is Kenny McMullan, BT Field engineer on Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island off the northern tip of Ireland is to be the first location in Ireland and the UK to experience 80Mbps wireless to the cabinet broadband technologies.

Up until now broadband speeds on the island have been limited due to the difficulty of providing a high-speed link to the island.

Working closely with colleagues at BT’s Research & Development facility at Adastral Park, BT in Northern Ireland is deploying a newly developed radio solution linking the Ballycastle exchange on the mainland with the Rathlin island exchange.

This is then integrated into the next generation high-speed fibre broadband architecture which provides a ‘fibre-like’ capacity directly to a street cabinet on Rathlin.

“We have been exploring innovative ways to deliver high speed broadband capability to Rathlin for some time, so we are very excited to announce the launch of this technology trial,” Frank McManus, head of wholesale sales and services in BT explained.

“This is a first for the UK and Ireland and will enable residents on the island to enjoy similar fibre broadband speeds as those available to businesses and households across Northern Ireland,” McManus said.

The initial pilot phase will be trialled by a number of premises on the island and will run for six months. If successful, the solution has the potential to offer high speed fibre broadband capability to the majority of premises on Rathlin.

BT Rathlin island

Pictured: Software entrepreneur Jonathan Mitchell and his wife Ann Henderson, artist and teacher, both residents of Rathlin Island

Jonathan Mitchell is a resident of Rathlin and runs his own software company, Mugginsoft. His wife Ann Henderson is an artist and relies upon the internet to conduct live video and interactive whiteboard art teaching with children from her island studio.

“My wife and I both work and depend heavily on internet access to run our businesses,” Mitchell explained.

“At the moment, we have very limited speeds with our home broadband service so we’re really looking forward to trialling the new technology to see the impact it will have on our day to day work processes and how much more efficient and adventurous we can become through high speed internet access.”

Innovation in telecoms

BT has made significant direct investment in Northern Ireland’s fibre infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, as part of BT Group’s stg£2.5 billion fibre roll-out in the UK.

In addition, BT also invested £30 million in its partnership with the Northern Ireland Government for the Next Generation Broadband Project, which BT rolled out on time and on budget for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

In 2012/13 alone, the company invested £544million in research and development across its global research and development hubs in the US, India and the UK, including its centre in Belfast.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years