Rural broadband specialists Quickline Communications, in collaboration with Mavenir, the Cloud-Native Network Software Provider, is the first internet service provider in the UK to commercially deliver a 5G standalone (SA), cloud-based, Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) solution for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) Service in the Shared Access Spectrum licence.
Using the existing radio network infrastructure and masts, the Open RAN approach allows service providers to speed up the development of their 5G networks through the ‘open source’ nature of the technology, avoiding vendor locking. It means all internet and mobile phone providers will be able to compete on a level playing field, no matter their size, and deliver the government ambition to connect rural communities.
Quickline has been testing its own fully cloud-native Open RAN solution, alongside a number of suppliers, for the past two years. With full confidence in the results, the company has now switched on its first mast, advancing ahead of its competitors, and demonstrating its ambitions to be technical leaders in this sector.
Ian Smith, Quickline’s Chief Technology Officer, said the firm can now quickly bring high speed connectivity to rural communities:
“We are very proud to be leading the way with this technology. This is a UK first and firmly supports the Government’s ambitions to provide gigabit capable connectivity to rural communities and to diversify the telecoms supply chain. As a result of being involved in the UK 5G testbed programme, we have developed and commercialised a 5G standalone, cloud-native OpenRAN network which utilises the N77 spectrum band as part of Ofcom’s Shared Access Spectrum licence.”
For the last two years, Quickline has been leading a £6 million project to boost rural connectivity in North Yorkshire as part of the Mobile Access North Yorkshire (MANY) consortium, which successfully bid into the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s (DCMS) co-ordinated 5G Testbeds and Trials programme. Following an evaluation process, Quickline selected Mavenir as the key technology provider in developing a truly Cloud-Native Open-RAN solution and bringing this into live service.
The Quickline network will be used for a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service, providing ultrafast mobile connectivity to rural communities across the North of England. Mavenir is providing an end-to-end solution that is built with cloud-native principles and software-centric design, enabling faster time to market and a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), making a 5G network, based on an open system, an ideal choice for operators to serve rural communities.
Stefano Cantarelli, Chief Marketing Officer at Mavenir, said, “Mavenir is excited to be part of the journey in building this advanced 5G SA network based on an open system to serve remote areas of the nation. The availability of adequate broadband in rural regions is a challenge and we are pleased to see Quickline’s drive and initiative to provide high quality and reliable mobile broadband connectivity.”
Meanwhile, Mark Seward, Director of Fixed Wireless Access Operations for Quickline, commented, “This is a fantastic achievement for Quickline, bringing all technology partners together to create a network delivering a true cloud-native 5G SA Open RAN solution. Not only does this make us industry leading – it also brings superfast connectivity to our rural communities, bridging the gap between cities and rural villages. After all, that’s the reason Quickline exists. We thought big and we worked hard. Seeing Open RAN become a reality is a huge achievement for a great team.”
Quickline has seen rapid growth over the last year following a £500m investment by new owners Northleaf Capital Partners. The investment has allowed the company to accelerate its impressive plans to bring lightning fast broadband speeds to over 500,000 homes and businesses in rural communities where a significant digital divide still remains.