Wireless broadband trials in Canterbury

On Friday 20 May, the University of Kent and Telabria Ltd, the award-winning wireless network developer and operator, will sign a formal contract for a partnership project and the launch of wireless broadband trials in Canterbury. As a result of the newly formed relationship – the first of its kind in the UK – the University and Telabria will research and develop best practices for designing and building next-generation wireless networks based on the emerging IEEE 802.16d standard, more commonly known as WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access).
After the contract ceremony on the University campus, there will be a demonstration of the capabilities of WiMAX technology that will involve a live videoconference via wireless connection between the University campus and a mobile communications vehicle located in the Canterbury City Council car park, a distance of approximately 1.5 miles across the city.
Phil Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise at the University said: ‘The University of Kent has a strong reputation for innovation and works closely with the business community in Kent and the southeast. We believe that the collaboration with Telabria will not only explore the boundaries of wireless broadband communications, but also contribute to knowledge transfer and provide the students participating in the trials with an insight into real-world career opportunities in this exciting field.’
Jim Baker, Telabria founder and Chief Executive Officer said: ‘Our relationship with the University of Kent is a terrific example of close cooperation between higher education research and enterprise. Through this collaboration, Telabria can leverage the University’s world-class electronics and computing research facilities and academic staff to help design the very best wireless broadband networks. In return, we can provide training and real-world work experience for undergraduate and postgraduate students in technical fields, preparing them for careers in the telecommunications industry. Together we can explore the impact that WiMAX will have on broadband communication for business, in areas such as remote training, VoIP (voice-over-IP) and video conferencing. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.’

Commencing in early June, Telabria will run a 90-day pilot of WiMAX-based wireless broadband services to small/home offices (SOHO) and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canterbury; base stations will be located at a number of sites including the University campus rooftops. ‘The University of Kent is ideally situated for the provision of Telabria’s WiMAX services,’ continued Baker. ‘The 300-acre campus is just one mile from the city centre, and positioned on a hill that overlooks a large proportion of the city’s 120 square mile area, with excellent reach to Canterbury’s 5,000-odd small to medium sized businesses.’

The key objectives of the pilot are to test radio propagation in licensed and licence-exempt frequency bands, antenna configurations, network capacity and routing protocols, and quality of service methods for delivering data, voice and video over WiMAX connections at speeds far in excess of those possible with ADSL or SDSL broadband services.

Other objectives of the collaboration include the deployment of a Wi-Fi mesh network or ‘hotzone’ in the city centre for public Internet access, and building-to-building connectivity to provide off-campus student accommodation in the city with University network access. Telabria expects to convert the pilot to a commercial WiMAX service at the end of the trials as part of an initiative to deploy wireless broadband services throughout Kent, a county with a population of over 1.5m people and 600,000 businesses over an area of approximately 1,500 square miles.

Jim Baker, Phil Davies, Adam Jastrzebski (Reader in Electronic Engineering and project leader for the University of Kent), Carole Barron (Head of the Enterprise Unit) and John Sotillo (Director of Information Services and Head of Computing Service at the University of Kent) will be among those present at the signing and demonstration on 20 May.