In the beginning there was
Orbital was born in 1998 as a partnership providing Domain Name registration and basic webhosting, the full extent of our network at this time was a single 42u Rack cabinet in Ashford Kent housing our main Pentium 166MMX freebsd server along with banks of 28k modems enabling 'dial up' customers to connect.
Our connectivity in 1996 was a kilostream leased line service running at 64k ! Within a year we upgraded our leased line backhaul to 2Mbit, this was at that time classed as huge and we could not foresee a time 2mbit could not cope!
1999It soon became apparent in the .com boom around 1998/9 that expansion was required to keep up with demand, for this reason we moved to new premises which enabled us to house more staff and extra servers to cope with the thousands of domain registrations we were now doing. At this point we hosted around 2000 websites. In 1999, Orbital Net Limited was incorporated and we were on the move again to a yet larger premises. We built our own server room with connectivity back to Telehouse North via NTL and Cable and Wireless. These were a combination of bonded 2Mbit circuits and a single 45Mbit circuit.
In the year 2000, we saw the introduction of DSL lines, albeit at a fairly slow pace. Orbital subscribed to the BT Wholesale offering to interconnect end users ADSL services onto our network, our interconnect at this time was only 2Mbit and didnt increase to 34mbit until late 2001.
In this year we trialled our first commercially available wireless network to serve clients using Breezecom equipment running at 2.4ghz. We were able to surpass the typical ADSL speeds offered over phonelines which was a maximum of 2Mbit but more typically 512k. Our wireless solution could deliver 6Mbit which sounds like a poor connection now but considered more than anyone could possible need at the time.
We joined RIPE and became an LIR with our own IPV4 address allocation and the Autonomous System Number 24916, this enabled us to effectively make our network part of the Internet through peering.
As our customer base built strongly on the products we offered, both wired and wireless, we were in a position to expand our Kent network. This included renting our own fibre circuits to form a ring around Kent, this meant we did not have to rely on Leased Line providers to deliver our connectivity to the internet. Our core network started in Telehouse North where in a single year our rack count increased from 1 to 8.
In this year we started peering with other Internet Providers at peering points including Linx, LoNap and Lipex.
We increased our London Connectivity to include Redbus Interhouse, we invested in a caged area housing 8 racks, this was mainly to house customer's servers along with some of our own to create redundancy from our Telehouse core.
In this year, our Maidstone office was also bought online and acted as a local PoP delivering bandwidth to clients locally.
2006 was an amazing year for Orbital and a huge boost to our Company as a whole. As our wireless network was growing, other Companies were also building similar network's in Kent. We were in the fortunate position to be able to purchase the network of our biggest competitor (Telabria / SoBroadband) and consolidate their netowork into our own. The residential part of their customer base was sold to Vfast Limited and along with Orbital Net Ltd is still owned by our parent company.
This was another big year for expansion, with our larger customer base, we had the need to purchase a third office to house our sister Company Vfast and two members of staff from Orbital were also relocated to the new Canterbury Office.
2009Our backbone infrastructure continued to grow, both in Fibre and Wireless across Kent, West Kent was now a big focus in our expansion with a newly built PoP in Tunbridge Wells serving outskirt area's like Eridge Green.
In 2011, it was becoming apparent that working from separate office's was not the most efficient way of serving our customers, we decided to buy a large Building on the outskirts of Canterbury which is our current Head office. We performed a major refit on the building creating an inspiring work environment for our staff.
All Staff relocated to the newly refurbished offices apart from a few that remained in the Ashford office for a further 6 months. We were able to see immediate results with this move, especially with communication between Departments.
In this year we started the planning of our next phase of expansion led by Ben Doherty, our Technical Director. We were aware that as BDUK issued funding to BT to roll out FTTC/P to the whole country, the market in both Fixed Wireless and Leased Lines would change. It was decided that we would un-bundle BT Telephone exchanges with our own racks across Kent to offer bespoke services to our clients. Ben guided Orbital through the vast 'onboarding process and our first exchange went live in late 2013. This exchange was Canterbury and was shortly followed by Ashford and Maidstone. This new infrastructure enabled us to offer Generic GEA services but also niche products with diverse WiMax failover. This was something we believe has given us the competetive edge and is something nobody else can offer in Kent.
2015 has seen the completion of our two year exchange rollout project, Orbital has now completed over 90% coverage of enabled FTTC cabinets in Kent. This year has also been a record year for the sign up of new Fibre Leased Line customers, we believe this is due to the competetive pricing we are able to offer due to having network to the local exchanges in major towns across the South East.