Mega fast and cheap broadband – from your lamppost!


It appears the passport to ultra-fast broadband in the home could be tucked away inside your nearest lamppost.

In one of the most bizarre stories we have stumbled across in a while, a British start-up, Last Mile Communications, is hoping to revolutionise Wi-Fi telecoms by placing wireless transceivers inside lampposts and other street signs.

These will then deliver low-power wireless signals to nearby homes and businesses.

The exciting bit is that the company claims the system offers extremely high bandwidth and that realistically it can deliver download data speeds of up to 40mbps to each user. That’s around 80 times quicker than standard 512kbps broadband in the UK.

It apparently won’t cost as much existing broadband with prices expected to be in the region of £15-20 per month.

The company claims it will install the transceivers in up to 150,000 lamp-posts. It is also claiming the support of UK politicians who realise that not only will the system bring broadband to rural communities, it can also be used for telemetry (i.e. delivering information about the speed of traffic to local authorities) is low -power (so no controversial 3G transmitter masts), and in using lampposts there’s no digging up the streets.

Patents for the system have been filed not only in Europe, but in the USA and Asia.

We’ll wait and see on this one. There’s more on the story from The Guardian this weekend.

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  • Don’t want to put too much of a dampener on this, as I’m sure they’ve thought it through, but aren’t most lamp posts a) metal and b) extremely well earthed by being buried in the… well, earth. Won’t these two things tend to limit the range/data-rate of the transceivers?

  • The idea isn’t new (although the datarates mentioned are far above those tried in the US). It should be mentioned the devil is into details. Getting space on poles, power to the poles and backhaul isn’t trivial.

  • What a fantastic idea! I can’t see a downside to this, apart from the huge investment needed to install all the access points. But with ‘free’ power provided by the lamp post/street sign/etc.. it will be massively cheaper than attempting to install a whole infrastructure from scratch. Logistically I think it will be slightly more difficult than it sounds, but it’s great news for any company involved in the supply chain for WiFi.

    Philip Ling
    Deputy Editor, New Electronics Magazine

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