Rural Broadband ISP Airband Fined £11k for Roadworks Offences

Alternative network operator Airband, which aims to reach 400,000 UK premises in rural areas via a mix of fixed wireless access (FWA) and full fibre (FTTP) networks by 2026, has been hit with fines and charges totalling more than £11k in Somerset for “failing to ensure the safety of the public while doing work” in the County.

The operator, which has recently been going through a period of restructuring that disrupted some builds and caused redundancies (here and here), has otherwise spent the past few years expanding their network across parts of Wales, the South West, the Midlands, Cheshire and Oxfordshire. Airband has also scooped up various state aid funded contracts, such as around Shropshire, Devon and Somerset.

NOTE: According to the Amber Infrastructure Group’s update in July 2023 (here), Airband’s network had reached over 290k Homes Passed (of which 215k FTTP and 76k FWA). But in March 2024 abrdn said they now cover 315,000 properties (c.230,000 Ready for Service) and serve over 19,000 customers.

Naturally, such an effort involves a lot of street works, and sometimes things go wrong. In this case, Somerset Council prosecuted the firm following works carried out in Kingston-St-Mary. Airband pleaded guilty at Taunton Magistrates Court earlier this month to two offences committed under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) – both committed on 21st November 2023.

The Two Offences

➤ Airband carried out street works at Nailsbourne Road, Kingston-St-Mary, Somerset, in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991 by failing to install traffic management to ensure the safety of the travelling public affected by the works.

➤ The company carried out street works at Dodhill Road, Kingston-St-Mary, Somerset, again in contravention of S65 of NRSWA 1991 by failing to ensure the safety of the public.

In passing sentence, the court gave full credit to Airband for guilty pleas entered at the earliest opportunity and accepted in mitigation that Airband showed genuine remorse and took steps to remedy the breaches and ensure compliance with NRSWA 1991 in the future.

The aggravating factors were that Airband “had previous convictions under NRSWA 1991 dating back to 2022“. The company was sentenced to fines totalling £7,400, costs of £2,282 and a victim surcharge of £2,000. ISPreview has approached Airband for comment and will update when they respond.

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