A pioneering form of broadband which doesn’t rely on digging up channels in the road is bringing lightening fast web speeds to properties in Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns.

Millimetre wave technology is an above-ground solution that uses 60GHz spectrum to beam gigabit capable internet to local residences in harder to reach city centre locations.

The technology – rolled out by WeLink in the city – has already been made available to 27,500 premises, a four-fold increase in the size of the fifth-generation network.

The first areas to benefit from the rollout are Summerhall and Calton Hill.

Launched in summer 2021, the Edinburgh pilot service became the first of its kind in the UK to deliver gigabit-capable speeds via WeLink’s pioneering millimetre wave technology. The approach avoids the disruption and delay of having to dig up streets and can rapidly deploy lightning-fast connectivity, even in a World Heritage Site. 

During the pilot scheme, the service achieved symmetrical speeds in excess of 1.3 gigabits. 

WeLink uses above ground, accessible kit that can be constantly upgraded; it transmits a tiny fraction of the power compared to mainstream 5G equipment and will soon be capable of delivering speeds up to 10 gigabits.

Although Edinburgh has above average availability of gigabit broadband at 87.9 per cent, a significant number of premises in the city – 6,107 – cannot get 30 megabits per second. This is considered to be the minimum required standard for fast downloads, high quality video conferencing, easy access to streaming services and multiple users. 

WeLink early adopters are able to stream HD content without pausing or buffering, download and upload large files in seconds and use multiple connected devices at the same time. They include Kashif Mahmood, a senior test analyst at one of Edinburgh’s best-known investment managers, who said: “It’s like going from driving a Ford Fiesta to a Formula One racing car.”

Natalie Duffield, CEO of WeLink Communications UK, said: “We’re thrilled to be expanding our wireless network in Edinburgh to give more households and businesses an alternative to mainstream internet service providers and endless roadworks. 

“The success of our pilot scheme in the Old and New Towns has proved the concept and given us the confidence to invest in growing our coverage. We have seen very high levels of interest from residents in all parts of Edinburgh who want faster speeds than they are currently able to receive so we know the demand is here.

“Broadband is vital for modern life and with rising bills, Edinburgh households and businesses need to make sure they are getting full value for money and a decent standard of customer service from their suppliers. We pride ourselves on providing friendly service at a fair price and if you need to get in touch, you can actually speak to us on the phone.”