UKWISPA Spring Members Meeting Report
Huge thanks to all those who attended and helped to organise our London Members Meeting at the end of March. By all accounts, it was a very successful meeting with almost 100 delegates on both days and an incredibly packed agenda.
Hosted at the Hilton London Paddington, the conference covered common challenges seen in our industry today, as well as a wealth of updates and best practices. It was an eventful and highly informative two-day meeting with visitors from across the UK and beyond. The key themes were gigabit connectivity, and case studies to provide real-world experiences.
New partners were welcomed, including not one, but two prestigious wholesale fibre providers; Virgin Media Business Wholesale and TalkTalk Business. We were also delighted to welcome Axiros, TP-Link, SPLYNX and Skylinks as Gold Partners that have joined our community since our last meeting. The first notable update from the conference was around the current Government Voucher Schemes, with members discussing the challenges and shortcomings of the schemes they’ve experienced. Despite the noted issues, it appears that most people had a PRP approved and were able to complete a project.
Next up was a presentation from Lloyd Harrington of RADWIN on the high-performance JET and NEO solutions. Lloyd presented how to deliver an affordable, high performance 5GHz network, even in areas with more noise and interference, using Luminet as an example. RADWIN’s unique beamforming technology allowed Luminet to deliver 150MB to their business clients in London, whilst demonstrating how easy to install the kit is, due to the beamforming technology.
Following on, Cambium took the stage to present a case study about Vital Wi-Fi’s Terragraph deployment, which rolled out gigabit connectivity to both private and park-owned caravans without the inconvenience and cost of fibre. Vital opted for a Cambium solution which has delivered gigabit connectivity over 170 caravans across the two parks so far. To close out the morning, Ceragon then discussed their own case study with Airband, providing an insightful review of the current products and solutions implemented.
The afternoon started with a technical overview of a scalable network architecture from new Consultancy Member, IP Architechs. IP Architechs focused on how to grow and scale a network. Ian Bushrod, representing UKWISPA then led a discussion about the UKWISPA Gold Accreditation scheme. This scheme is free for UKWISPA ISPs to join and allows them to demonstrate professionalism and quality of customer service. Only 9 out of 110 members have this status and the discussion explored how awareness and take-up can be improved.
We were delighted to be joined by DCMS to present an update on Project Gigabit including their plan to approach the UK’s very hard to reach properties which spans over 100,000 properties.TalkTalk also took to the stage to discuss their network topology and delivery of services, including their backhaul solutions for WISPs and FISPs. To close out Day 1, Turris discussed the launch of their exciting new products including the Turris Omnia 2022, as well as providing updates on their OS 5.X. OS 6.x and WiFi 6 upgrade kit. To conclude the first day of thirsty work and discussions, a networking and drinks session was put on for all members, sponsored by Voneus and Wireless Coverage.
On day two the conference opened with TP-Link and their new Aginet solution, designed for WISPs to improve customer WiFi experience. The discussions continued and addressed common ISP pain points and covered how TP-Link is working hard to mitigate these through their new products and solutions.
Next up it was time for a presentation from ItsFibre, a hybrid build with RADWIN, delivered by Ian Bushrod. The question posed was "to fibre or not to fibre" which Ian discussed in great detail along with the St Giles build, consisting of 372 dwellings ranging from 2-bed apartments to 5-bed houses.New Gold Partner, Axiros then took to the stage to provide an overview their portfolio, including the solutions delivered with Voneus and Airband in the UK.
Next members embraced a group discussion regarding the independent review of the current position of Wireless and Fibre, and how the practical use of wireless and licensing issues could significantly impact op-ex moving forward. This discussion centred on a report that UKWISPA has commissioned alongside Wireless Coverage, Siklu and Cambium. The report when published will be aimed at policymakers and investors, as well as operators to help provide a contemporary view of the relative merits and opportunities of gigabit wireless vs. gigabit fibre network build.
Closing the morning sessions, members then heard from Ian Wheelock of Commscope who discussed the importance of a good CPE to back up your network’s latency claim. Ian also spoke about the advantages of WiFi 6 and how it helps IoT via higher speeds, lower latency, improved coverage, and improved battery usage. To conclude the discussion members looked at what’s coming next in the world of WiFi, with WiFi 7 expected between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024.
Following on from the productive second morning, members enjoyed a networking session and lunch before continuing with discussions and presentations, which started with Mimosa by Airspan. Mimosa’s new product line is currently the only 5 GHz system that has been approved for use with the BDUK Gigabit Voucher Scheme when deployed correctly.
Aviat Networks presented a case study profiling Quickline’s deployment of 10 Gbps backhaul for their gigabit capable FWA network. To conclude the second day’s formal presentations, Ahmad Abdulghani, a senior developer from WISDM, presented a case study highlighting North Yorkshire County Council’s deployment of 60GHz equipment using existing street light infrastructure. Ahmad discussed the £3.6m scheme which provided high-quality free public WiFi in North Yorkshire’s County towns. Full network designs and technology recommendations were delivered using the WISDM high-definition planning tool. With the help of Wireless Coverage this rollout across 20 towns in North Yorkshire was completed on time and on budget. To finish up, Ahmad also demonstrated the WISDM planning tool, showing all of its key planning benefits.
To wrap up a successful UKWISPA event, members spoke about key points raised during both days, discussed action points for the next meeting (planned for 5th and 6th October 2022 in Edinburgh), and then enjoyed a “meet the sponsors” and members networking session.
Thank you for taking the time to read our UKWISPA Update. If you have any queries or feedback regarding any updates within the report, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
MS (Distribution) UK Ltd.