Startup claims to solve broadband fibre conundrum

Bluwan, which used to be a part of Thales until 2005, showed off a system it will demonstrate at next month’s WMC and which promises fast broadband for rural communities without the expense of laying fibre across vast differences.

Thales already produced fibre through air (FTTA) systems for the military, while the Bluwan spin off is taking aim at end users, small to medium sized businesses and corporations. It is currently conducting tests at several sites including here in Paris.

Hub diagram

Shayan Sanyal, marketing director of Bluwan claimed its products are disruptive for both broadband supply and backhaul. He said that fibre through the air is one of  the few systems in the wireless space that can deliver several gigabits of capacity.  He claimed Bluwan has enough capacity to provide significant backhaul capabilities too.
He said that FTTA means that wherever you live – in a rural place or a city – “you’ll have superfast broadband delivered to the masses – people, small businesses and corporations.   

“We can deliver 100 megabits per second – it’s an advanced technology in terms of speeds.” Not everyone needs 100 megabits of speed, some will be happy with 20 or 30, or whatever.

He claimed that satellite latency is too great to allow modern day applications With satellites the latency is too great for modern day applications to respond fast enough. He claimed you can’t play Gran Turismo 5 on your PS3 using satellite broadband. FTTA latency is minimal, he said.

There are no safety problems, he said, with systems tranmitting systems thousands of times less than WHO standards.

These guys argue that the cost of fibre is so much that companies and countries won’t ever be able to afford the installation to fulfil the promises they have given their customers or citizens.

Install savings can be 20 to 50 times less than fibre, he said.

WiMAX,” he said, “is a success in emergent countries, but not in developed countries. WiMAX has lost to LTE but it has great propagation qualities but doesn’t provide enough capacity. WiMAX still has a part to play but for superfast applications we have to look beyond WiMAX.”

Bluwan says that 26 countries currently support the standard behind FTTA. “We’re now talking to government authorities for them to start auctioning 40GHz,” he said.

He said that the company is also talking to the UK government. “For example, for Cumbria, fibre is a problem and there needs to be a major fibre Point of Presence. We’re keen to get into the BDA trials with Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Shetland Islands. We’ll be looking at being in all of those trials,” he said.

It’s not clear that the UK is spending enough – countries like Australia and the USA are spending billions on improving their broadband infrastructure but too deliver to every home in the UKwould cost £30 billion.

The hubs can cost between $200,000 and $1,000,000 – depending on the type of installation. Service providers will typically throw in the little dish that fits on the side of your house. The radio currently costs around $2,000 although that price is set to drop when economies of scale kick in. Pricing models Bluwan appear to be similar to, for example, the way Virgin prices what it delivers to homes, based on bandwidth.