November 12th - It was on my return that afternoon that I spotted a relic of times past, fitted high up on the gable wall of a house on the Walsall Road in Darlaston. It’s an Ionica antenna. You don’t see many of those about now.
Ionica were a pre-internet age telephone company that promised much, yet failed in the dot com boom. Launched in the early nineties, they offered cheap telephone line packages. What was unique was that the technology they offered was based on microwave transmission, rather than the copper wires BT used. If you signed up, engineers came out and installed one of these octagonal 3.5GHz microwave antennas, which pointed at a base station in the locality. The idea was fine, but never covered it’s costs, and as they were narrowband, would have been useless for the internet connections that were to come later. The company value was inflated to over a billion pounds in 1997, but collapsed in 1998. The network was wound down by BT, and only a few remnants like this antenna survive.
Like the Rabbit zone phone, a curious idea in a time of great change.