The trial connected 12 homes in a village close to Newbury in Berkshire

Virgin Media has begun a fixed wireless access trial to deliver gigabit broadband services to rural customers in the UK.

The trial used Ericsson’s radio technology to broadcast millimetre wave spectrum between two “trunk” points, over a distance of 3km at speeds of up to 10Gbps. The signal is then converted in a cabinet and relayed to the premises over a full fibre connection.

“As we invest to expand our ultrafast network we’re always looking at new, innovative ways to make build more efficient and connect premises that might currently be out of reach. While presently this is a trial, it’s clear that this technology could help to provide more people and businesses with the better broadband they deserve,” said Jeanie York, chief technology and information officer, at Virgin Media.

The trial initially connected 12 homes in the village of Greenham, close to Newbury in Berkshire, providing sustained, secure download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 150Mbps. Customers are connected directly with fibre and use Virgin Media’s Hub 3.0 router and V6 set-top box.

While the initial trial only connected 12 homes, the existing 10Gbps radio link could support the delivery of services to 500 homes and businesses. The system could be scaled up to 20Gbps, which would provide services to up to 2,000 premises.

Virgin Media says that 3km is currently the optimal wireless link length to guarantee reliability in all weathers.

Virgin Media is currently investing in its network architecture to deliver ultrafast broadband services to millions of customers across the UK. The company expects to conduct further wireless trials later this year.

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