Businesses now able to tap into 5G following Isle of Man launch

5G launch: Adam Beaumont, Alfred Cannan, David Morris

Businesses on the Isle of Man will be able to access 5G services following investment by telecoms firm BlueWave, which is owned by Leeds-based company aql.

The upgrade in telecoms services will help business users in Douglas and the surrounding region, including shipping operators, by connecting them to unlimited, high speed 5G data connectivity easily and cost-effectively.

Mobile operator BlueWave was acquired by aql in 2015.

The 5G network will complement the island’s existing capability and coverage footprint. While urban areas have some fibre connectivity and ultra-rural networks now have access to SpaceX Starlink satellite internet, BlueWave’s 5G offering will fill in the capability gaps and provide more choice to the user.

The significant investment includes building on-island mast and fibre infrastructure, along with creating terabits of connectivity capacity off-island, connecting to Leeds, Manchester and London and to the global internet hubs, bringing down the cost of data giving digital businesses access to world class connectivity at costs on a par with major European cities.

The capacity of the network is huge, allowing uncapped data tariffs connecting to the global internet via BlueWave’s own terabit – a terabit is 1,000 gigabits – of off-island capability, also connecting to ManxIX, the Island’s internet exchange, which further increases efficiencies by keeping local traffic on-island.

BlueWave’s 5G service extends into the Irish Sea towards Morecambe, enabling monitoring of the marine environment to provide real-time data to the scientific community.

Eventually this data will be used as part of the digital storytelling of the rhythms of the natural environment which will be the focus of Eden Project Morecambe. It will also enable better-connected passenger ferries and shipping, opening up future opportunities for tourism in the North West of England.

From BlueWave’s mast site and satellite earth station on Carnane, 4G and 5G coverage extends across the Irish Sea towards the UK’s North West coast, enabling marine and maritime communications and supporting the research community with connectivity for marine environmental monitoring and ‘Internet of Things’ sensor connectivity, supporting the Island’s aspirations to embrace smart technology – everything from smart streetlights, to delivery drones and robots.

The launch of BlueWave 5G was announced at a recent Northern Powerhouse event, hosted by the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, where cultural and business leaders explored economic opportunities for the island through its links with the North of England.

Marking the announcement, Prof Adam Beaumont, founder and chair of aql and trustee of Eden Project Morecambe, visited the mast site on Carnane, accompanied by Isle of Man Chief Minister Alfred Cannan and MP for Morecambe, David Morris.

Chief Minister Alfred Cannan said: “The network has the potential to unlock many partnerships, such as potentially creating digital twinning of our whole-island UNESCO Biosphere with the Eden projects in Cornwall and soon in Morecambe. It can also support the growing need to connect the Internet of Things, which will bring future benefits for both the public and private sectors on the Isle of Man.”

David Morris said: “Eden Morecambe will be the nearest neighbour to the Isle of Man, with strong historic links with this beautiful island and Heysham being a main sea port for essential supplies and tourism. I’m keen to make sure that we reinvigorate and invest in this infrastructure to make the journey from the UK, particularly our Northern cities, via Morecambe and Heysham part of an experience which puts us firmly on the map.”

Prof Adam Beaumont said: “It was fitting that both David Morris and the Chief Minister could celebrate the launch of the first live commercial 5G service on the Isle of Man. David has been an unwavering supporter of Eden Morecambe and Alf has been a tireless campaigner for building a digital Isle of Man.

“My vision since acquiring BlueWave was to bring down the cost of data connectivity on the island to the same as the major internet cities – Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London. We’re on track to delivering this and the infrastructure to make the island a natural home for digital business.”

BlueWave is also the operator which delivers the high speed connectivity which powers Isle of Man production company ‘Greenlight’, enabling them to film thrilling real-time footage of the TT race. The connectivity mix this year will be able to include 5G.