Across the globe, programs are continuously being put in place to increase the coverage, speed, and capacity of wireless networks. This past June, for example, the UK Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) announced its “Consultation on Connected Vouchers” program. This plan allows for small businesses to apply for vouchers that cover the costs of installing ultra-fast broadband connections. The terms of the Urban Broadband Fund originally dictated that money could be provided for fixed-line connections providing speeds within 80 to 100 Mb/s. The bar was then lowered, however, to a minimum of 30 Mb/s. The program is intended to stimulate the market by improving digital connectivity in participating cities and creating new jobs and investments.

In August, businesses in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Salford began a trial of the program. Companies had to have less than 250 employees and revenue of less than £40 million (roughly $65 million US). The vouchers, covering setup and installation fees, ranged from £250 to £3000 (roughly $400 to $4800 US). Hyperoptic began supporting the voucher in three of the test cities—Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Manchester—where its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks are available. They offered businesses a 100-Mb/s leased-line service from £250/month (roughly $400/month).

As part of the summer test phase, Metronet took the vast majority of orders across Manchester and Salford. Phase two of Metronet’s plan involves covering 22 super-connected cities across the UK starting next month. In order to do so, Metronet has partnered with Siklu, which specializes in millimeter-wave radio products. The plan entails building upon Siklu’s EtherHaul product infrastructure. The EtherHaul portfolio operates in the 60-, 70-, and 80-GHz bands. It is based on an all-silicon design, resulting in a cost-effective and reliable backhaul solution. The products operate in the uncongested E-band spectrum and utilize hitless adaptive bandwidth coding and modulation for high availability.