Skylink wireless network delivers symmetric speeds to 10Mbps for residential and business customers in South East UK
September 1st 2005 — Sittingbourne, Kent UK. Telabria, the award-winning UK regional network operator, has launched its wide area wireless broadband network after six months of intensive trials in Kent, South East England. Targeted at both residential and business markets, the Skylink service offers customers symmetric broadband speeds up to 10Mbps, as well as voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephone service. Skylink is the ﬁrst network of its kind in the UK to offer combined data and voice over a WiMAX-class network to homes and businesses. The Skylink backbone of high-capacity ﬁber and licensed band microwave links encompasses over 1,300 square kilometers (850 square miles) making it one of the largest next-generation wireless broadband networks in Europe, and brings a whole new class of broadband services to Kent’s population of 675,000 households and 60,000 businesses. The initial roll out of Skylink includes the city of Canterbury and borough of Swale, with additional urban, suburban and rural areas planned as part of Telabria’s ongoing Skylink network expansion throughout 2005 and 2006.
“In the UK symmetric broadband services are scarce outside metropolitan areas,” said Jim Baker, Telabria’s CEO and founder. “In Kent, less than 16% of the telephone exchanges support symmetric DSL (SDSL) which means customers will be highly challenged to take advantage of emerging technologies such as VoIP and video conferencing which demand fast upload capability.” Copper network based SDSL is range limited, with 2Mbps services restricted to within just 1.6km (0.9 miles) of an exchange. Wi-MAX — the emerging standard for wireless networking — does not suffer from these limitations and Skylink delivers a range of broadband packages from 1.5Mbps to over 10Mbps at distances up to 20km (12.5 miles) from the base station. “Skylink’s ability to reach far beyond copper, combined with highly competitive pricing and the merger of data and voice into one service, sets a new standard for broadband connectivity.”
Skylink subscribers beneﬁt from speeds unavailable over xDSL in most of the UK, and unlike many ADSL subscriptions usage is not subject to monthly limits. Skylink Pro, a 20:1 symmetric service, sets a new standard in symmetric broadband pricing at just £49.99 for a 1.5Mbps service and £79.99 for a 3Mbps service, which is up to 75% cheaper than equivalent SDSL services over copper networks. Skylink Ultra, Telabria’s premium 10:1 business-class package, offers 5Mbps for £249 and 10Mbps for £369, both backed by a service level agreement and response time commitment not usually found in SDSL services. The maximum speed of SDSL from British Telecom, the UK’s incumbent operator, is just 2Mbps. Telabria also offers a residential asymmetric service, Skylink Home, which is available at speeds of 1.5Mbps (£24.99/month) or 3Mbps (£34.99/month), with an upload speed of 512Kbps which is double the 256Kbps UK ADSL limit.
All Skylink packages are available with a telephone service that works over the subscriber’s broadband connection and which does not require a traditional landline to operate. Skylink Voice Home offers residential customers unlimited local and national calls for £9.99 per month, while Skylink Voice Business is available to SOHO and SME customers for £19.99. Skylink Voice PBX delivers ten lines for £99.99 per month with full virtual switchboard functionality including auto-attendant, voicemail-to-email, fax-to-email, and physical extensions that can work anywhere in the world with a broadband connection. “We really wanted to offer our customers a complete alternative to services delivered over old-fashioned copper networks,” said Baker. ” With Skylink not only is Telabria offering uniﬁed broadband and voice on a single bill, but at speeds that outclass the competition and at prices that will save our customers a great deal of money over landline equivalents.”
Subscribers will connect to the Skylink network via a small outdoor radio, typically mounted at roof height, which connects to the nearest Skylink base station; service is then delivered to a standard Ethernet jack located in the customers premises. Telabria utilizes the 5.8GHz spectrum to deliver ‘last-mile’ WiMAX-class connections, a band which is lightly licensed by the UK regulator Ofcom for ﬁxed broadband wireless operations.
Telabria expects Skylink to be highly attractive to home and business users who are on the fringes of xDSL reach. Telephone exchanges tend to be in located in the centre of communities, while the majority of new residential and business property development is taking place at sites on the outskirts, thus furthest away from the exchange and least likely to get true broadband speeds over 1Mbps. In rapidly expanding areas such as the South East of England, where the UK Government has committed to build in excess of 640,000 new homes over the next twenty years, broadband access is seen as a key component of a regeneration initiative to improve the local economy and create sustainable communities. “Telabria’s Skylink service is an excellent example of ways in which 21st century technology can support local and regional regeneration framework,” said Councillor Andrew Bowles, Leader of Swale Borough Council, and chairman of Swale Forward — a partnership of local and national government agencies dedicated to regeneration and economic growth in Swale, part of the Thames Gateway. “In order to attract knowledge driven businesses and stimulate the type of economic growth upon which we wish to focus, services must exist that are comparable to those available in metropolitan markets. With Skylink being launched in Swale today, making it one of the ﬁrst areas in the UK with this advanced broadband service, the Borough is clearly at an advantage and we’re delighted to be setting the pace for the rest of the county to follow”. The borough of Swale, centred around the town of Sittingbourne, contains over 50,000 households and 4,500 businesses. It is also home to Kent Science Park, where Telabria’s headquarters and network operations centre are based, and where a hub of research and hi-technology business has developed.
In addition to its Skylink broadband network, Telabria has established a portfolio of over 75 public hotspot Wi-Fi Zones throughout the South East, including fourteen in Central London. Subscribers to Skylink will have free unlimited use of the hotspot network when away from home or the office, enabling them to check email, surf the web or place VoIP calls when out and about. Telabria is also working with public transportation companies to add Wi-Fi hotspots to coaches and buses popular with daily commuters.
Privately-held Telabria recently secured a round of funding in excess of £1m from individual and institutional investors that includes Faroese Telecom, the national carrier in the Faroe Islands, with further rounds planned for the future. Telabria expects rapid growth of its WiMAX-class network throughout Kent, and plans to expand into other regions during 2006. A web site with full details of the new Skylink service is available at http://skylink.telabria.com