THE firm behind Swindon’s super-fast wireless broadband project says it is pleased with the number of customers signed up so far – but is refusing to reveal actual take-up figures.

The first borough-wide 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in the UK went live six months ago under a Swindon Council-backed commercial scheme, led and funded by UK Broadband, one of the world’s biggest broadband providers.

The Now Wireless Broad-band monthly packages vary from £21.50 to £40 for householders and £20.83 to £52.50 for businesses but UK broadband has refused to say how many have signed-up because it says the public network is not fully built.

The firm has also installed a separate microwave network, which has been created in partnership with the council’s IT service provider Capita, to provide the capability for ultrafast broadband connections to schools, businesses and the council. Using the microwave network, the council expects to save £480,000 – covering the £400,000 loan it invested in the failed Digital City wi-fi scheme.

A UK Broadband spokesman said: “We are building two networks in Swindon, a high-speed microwave network and a 4G LTE network. Our priority was to get the microwave network completed and operational to provide services to Swindon Council and other public sector customers such as schools.

“We have now connected enough users to this network to be able to underwrite the bulk of the £480,000 of savings that Swindon Council were looking to achieve over five years.

“The 4G network is now over 50 per cent completed and we are pleased with the customer take-up so far. Beyond central Swindon we are carrying out trials with a view to being able to offer home and business broadband services more rurally.”

He said the firm is evaluating the next phase of its 4G investment in Swindon to decide whether to focus on completing the remaining urban areas, thus enabling mobile data services across the borough primarily for the public sector, or re-directing the investment to the underserved rural areas for better home and business web.

Resident Des Morgan, of Caraway Drive, West Swindon, has been following the project.

He said: “I’m sorry UK Broadband cannot be more explicit about the business or private users they’ve signed up, as I can well recall the same vague claims being made by Digital City. I’m glad to hear they’re able to offer the council significant savings on their previous system, however it’s disingenuous of the council to align these savings to the money loaned to Digital City.”

Former council chief Coun Rod Bluh said: “I was told some time ago the bulk of the £480,000 was already guaranteed with a lot more in the pipeline, so it looks like the money will be returned, which it was always stated it would be.”

He said he understood why a private company might not want to reveal its commercial data.