You can now connect to fibre broadband on Howe Hill and Britwell Hill

We are delighted that full fibre broadband is now available on Howe Hill and Britwell Hill. Openreach fibre has been laid underground or hung from poles and can now be connected to local homes and businesses. In the last few days two properties have connected quickly and smoothly now getting 100Mb/s download and 30Mb/s upload and 6ms ping. One is with BT the other Zen Internet.

To make the final connection to your property you have to place an order for a fibre service with your internet service provider.  They send an Openreach engineer out to make the final connection to a new small grey box on the wall outside your house and a small white box fitted inside your house – see pics. A router from the ISP arrives in the post (the black box in the picture) that you plug into the new white Openreach box.

We know that the majority of locals use BT. Existing customers should go to and login with your BT account to see packages for you. Or click ‘broadband deals’ enter address or phone number and it should show you Fibre Essential, Fibre 1, Fibre 2 etc etc. Check which one you want and sign up. The cheapest is £24.99/month (£19.99 up front) most expensive £59.99/month (£9.99 up front) but there are deals.

It’s a fairly painless process and delivers the highly reliable speed of fibre.

You can switch away from BT of course to other providers.  For those of you who have already switched to others call them and ask about an upgrade to ‘an FTTP package’.  Not all ISPs yet offer FTTP – we recommend Zen Internet, UK-based with excellent customer service.  There is a constantly growing list of ISPs who offer FTTP here

Popular ISPs TalkTalk and Sky are starting to trial rollout their FTTP packages after many delays and they aren’t available just yet.


When we started work on bringing fibre to the area it was possible to upgrade your phone line to work over fibre too for higher quality and reliability of voice calls. Frustratingly Openreach has now made this more complicated. Surprisingly, the BT route above delivers broadband over fibre but for some people keeps their voice phone line running over copper with phone line rental bundled into the broadband price. There is a new experimental service called ‘Digital Voice’ that some customers are offered by BT that allows you to plug your phone into the new Smarthub2 with greatly increased quality and reliability, but not everyone is offered it.

If you want to have a better phone line it’s perfectly possible but requires more steps. Ask us about a product such as Vonage

whose little box plugs into your router and you plug your phone into that – you can have your existing phone number moved to Vonage. There are other ISPs who can offer you a voice line as part of the broadband process – with some you can plug your phone into the router they supply – though check very carefully with these that your existing number can be moved to the new line. 

When you are connected

Some people get fibre and then wonder why a speedtest in their browser on the PC or laptop doesn’t show the speed they expect.  This can be because your computer is older and can’t do the fastest speeds. You will still benefit from a much more stable and responsive connection.  You can now upgrade to a new machine confident that you can make more of it with a decent connection.  Often a person’s phone is the newest bit of kit they have with the latest wifi technology and this shows the fastest speeds using a speedtest app. Enabling WiFI calling on your mobile can transform your mobile phone experience at home. People also find that their TV or set top box might be quicker but won’t show the speed onscreen but people notice less buffering and higher picture or sound quality.

For Zoom/Teams/Skype users the very low ping times we are seeing mean a much more snappy video call with no lag. For practical affordable tips on how to make home video conferencing work better see William’s post based on years of practice.

Our thanks as ever go to people at SODC, OCC and Openreach who made the many stages on this long journey possible.

Peter and William


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Now bringing fibre from Greenfield to homes in Howe Hill and Britwell Hill area


We are now working with BT to bring proper fibre connections to the 30 or so houses from the BT Green Cabinet at Greenfield, via the top of Howe Hill, along Britwell Hill to Britwell Hill Farm. Peter has done a brief survey, Openreach have committed and we are organising government vouchers that we think will cover most of the cost. Contact us via this form if you would like to take part.

Fibre directly to your home makes a huge difference to your broadband, freeing you from the old copper lines. The internet is more reliable and much faster, the quality of your landline also increases as phone calls go down the fibre.  If your work or education has conference or video calls, maybe a VPN login then fibre is transformative.  Upload speeds are also quicker.  If you have kids that play games the ping speed is often less than 10ms (this means a lot to them, honestly).  Rural home buyers increasingly look for decent broadband and fibre is just about the best you can get.

This is all possible because Britwell Hill Farm paid for their own fibre to run from Greenfield along this route and now Openreach can connect all the houses passed by or near to that fibre much more cheaply than before. Unfortunately we can’t do the bottom of Howe Hill in this scheme as it is too far away from this existing fibre path.

Details: this will deliver fibre to the home, sometimes known as fibre to the premises. The optical fibre will run all the way from your house to the exchange with no copper. So there is no signal degradation, it’s as fast as you can get.  This is different to the connection you currently have – either the radio based Village Networks or the copper based ‘fibre to the cabinet’ BT/Sky/Talk Talk -type product. Fibre to the Cabinet means that the last couple of kilomtres from the cabinet are copper and the signal drops off the further you go from the cabinet and the old cables are affected by rain, tree-rub etc.  Fibre to the home on offer here is much more reliable.

We are working on costs – but the expensive bit – laying new fibre to connect your house should be covered but there will be a small admin/activation fee.  A couple of new boxes would be installed in or outside your house on connection as part of the service. We are checking to see which service providers will be supported but once fibre is connected there is usually a range from regular BT services to more specialist ones like Zen internet.

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Now connecting people in Stonor and Pishill at around 30Mb/s, other local communities coming soon

white-pond-1Village Networks are now offering connections in Stonor and Pishill.  You can see a screen shot here of an actual test result at 29Mb/s in Stonor.  To get connected, see this link for details.  Remember this is independent of BT, nothing to do with your phone line.  For businesses or anyone who wants to pay a premium, much faster speeds can be delivered.  The monthly cost is the same as BT’s ‘Infinity’ service.  You should be able to run a mobile signal booster over one of these if you don’t have a mobile signal and, with the right kit can even give up your BT phone line.

Next up, in a few weeks will be Russell’s Water, Cookley Green, North End, Britwell Hill, Howe Hill, Maidensgrove, Swyncombe and Turville Heath. These all depend on us getting an aerial on the police masts at Britwell Hill, which the police have finally agreed, and in some cases a local ‘node’ in the community to relay the signal from the masts.  We’ll publish an update when Britwell Hill mast goes live and we can start work on other communities.  If you have any questions, get in touch via Village Networks or  contact Peter Richardson, Ian Beecher-Jones or me at Connect8. Happy to help – our frequently asked questions might have the answer.

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Moving to Village Networks from BT – saving over £120 a month

ian beecher jones

Ian Beecher-Jones of Russell’s Water moved from BT to Village Networks recently, he totted up the costs and savings and wrote some questions and answers.  Ian is also happy to chat about the experience, drop him a line on:

Previous set up

2 BT lines, 1 with Broadband and BT sport

Both lines have international call packages and Unlimited call, call minder and caller display.

With Village Networks

Both BT lines have gone and replaced with 1 Vonage connection running over Village Networks broadband, with the old BT number being transferred.  Vonage is £20/month  includes all UK landline and mobile calls. The international package cost £3.99/month and is unlimited.

For voice and video calls also we have a choice of Whats App, Facebook or Skype which all work over the broadband.

We use the Three mobile network and our mobile phones use Three Wi-Fi calling (which uses the wifi and broadband to make the call when you can’t get a phone signal), so now with full coverage of proper wifi our phones can be used all over the house.

Q & A

Do I have to keep my BT landline?

You can for landline calls, but you can use other services such as Vonage, Facebook, Whats App or Skype to make calls. How many land line calls do you make now rather than mobile calls?

Can I use my mobile now?

Yes, if your mobile provider has a service such as Wi-Fi calling or add on boxes (such as Vodafone Suresignal or ee SignalBox) then mobile calls will travel across the fast broadband and give you a signal.

Do I get BT sport with Village Networks?

No, BT sport will have to purchase separately in the same way you subscribe now, this £22.99 per month. Or if you are an EE customer with a data package for £5/month

How do I watch sport on my TV?

You can subscribe to BT Sport separately (£22.99) or Sky Sports to watch sport on a monthly basis. Or NowTV which is an on-demand Sky TV service for films and sports from Sky.

Can I use Netflix and Apple TV?

Yes, with the Village Networks service all these service work seamlessly.

Facts and Figures – Ian Beecher-Jones – cal

Ian has also broken down the expenditure, showing a substantial saving of £120 a month.


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Service live from Britwell Hill radio masts – can we see your community from here?

We are delighted that the Village Networks service is now live from the radio masts on Britwell Hill.  It should be possible to service almost any community that can be seen from there.  And then relay the signal on, daisy-chain-like to properties that are out of sight.  Can we see your community in the photos taken by the engineer when fitting the kit up the mast? The pics are ordered in sequence, clockwise from the North as they show up in the gallery.  If the gallery doesn’t work for you they are also online here. Let Village Networks know you are interested here.  Most communities need to have a ‘node’ installed to relay the signal locally – we have nodes already in Russells Water and Pishill.  A handful of very isolated properties can be connected direct to the mast (capacity is limited).

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Posted in Britwell Hill, Britwell Salome, Christmas Common, Cookley Green, Cuxham, Greenfield, Howe Hill, Northend, Park Corner, Pishill with Stonor, Pyrton, Russells Water, Swyncombe, Turville Heath, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fibre being connected to Lower Geenfield cabinet

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Getting FTTP in Stonor, Pishill, Maidensgrove, Britwell Hill etc

FTTP kit that goes in your home

  For some tiny communities a new Green Cabinet (at about £30,000) isn’t the answer, it’s too expensive per house.  This is the case for some of Stonor, Pishill and we expect a few other local communities.  BDUK/OCC instead subsidise Openreach to provide Fibre To The Premises ‘FTTP’. They lay a fibre right up to the boundary of your property. OCC subsidies Openreach to do this in the background up to about £1700 per property – if there is less than say 15 homes to serve FTTP is cheaper.  The fibre delivers the broadband, not the copper.  Fibre is great but does have some drawbacks and can be a bit of a pain to install.  In summary its strengths  and weaknesses are:
Strengths of FTTP

Higher speeds than copper over any distance – the distance to the cabinet thing no longer matters

More reliable than copper, once it’s installed – with the slight caveat that overhead lines can still be damaged by trees/wind

Once a fibre is fitted, if you go with BT as the ISP you have the choice of BT’s standard Infinity packages from 30-80Mb/s. If you are prepared to pay a lot more, then over 100Mb/s is attainable but the packages for this are complex and hard to find.

Weaknesses of FTTP

Installation can be a hassle (slow, two visits at least – one survey, one fitting to house wall, sometimes a third to drill through and install kit inside house).  Seasoned broadband campaigners elsewhere in the country have warned me to be wary of the installs until Openreach improves its system.  FTTP is only just getting underway in Oxfordshire and we understand there were issues with the roll out in Rotherfield Greys.

If you have a regular drive/distance from road and are happy with a new over head cable with the fibre in being strung from the pole then connection should be free or a nominal £100. If you have an unusually long drive there can be excess costs that you have to pay – these can be from hundreds of pounds to thousands. If you want your drive dug up and relaid immaculately then that is usually extra.

Less choice of ISP – for early adopters it’s BT or the highway, later, Zen and A&A might come in (see below) but no Sky or Talk Talk. So if you have a Sky or Talk Talk etc package you need to get out of that.  ISPs don’t always offer an FTTP service once an exchange has been enabled, as it is a new and minority service.

General uncertainty around aspects of pricing – sometimes there is an activation fee of £100, you may have a switching fee of £100, sometimes this might all be waived by BT Openreach or the ISP. If you want to remove your copper line then there is a fee for that, usually.

As FTTP involves much more digging etc than using copper phone lines my judgement is that forecast FTTP availability dates will slip more than for cabinets.

Advice varies on whether you can get rid of your copper phone line – the exchange has to support ‘voice over fibre’. The home equipment has a couple of phone line plugs (see picture) if the exchange allows, then you can have your copper line removed we think, although there is usually a fee for that. The ISP Andrews and Arnold recommend subscribers retaining a copper line for voice in these early days. We don’t know yet if Turville Heath and Nettlebed will support voice over fibre at launch.

There are two specialist British ISPs that support FTTP and have a published price list both of which have excellent customer service, light years removed from BT. BUT we don’t yet know if they will offer it in our bits of Oxfordshire. As the links below to their FTTP pages show they both have different pricing and connection fees.

Andrews and Arnold

Zen Internet

And as ever if you do not subscribe to the new service then there is no improvement at all in your existing line.

The kit that goes into your home is in the picture

If you are on a traditional/terrible BT ‘home hub’ router, you will need a new one. The new BT Smart Hub is very good, but any WAN router (sometimes called a cable router) will do. Get one with ‘Wireless AC’ to see a massive improvement in your wifi speeds – such as this one.

I have asked OCC to update its web page on FTTP as it was out of date and they seem to have improved it a bit.  

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Big turn out for Connect8 in Pishill and Stonor

Paul firth talks to local people about village networks

Over thirty people turned out at The Crown Inn on a freezing night to discuss bringing Village Networks fast broadband to Pishill and Stonor.  Paul Firth and Roger Carey from Village Networks explained how they could bring wireless broadband to houses in Pishill by putting a small antenna up on the ridge in the vineyard.  It was a complex install – involving laying some fibre and power to the antenna that would cost £9,000.  If the community could find this money, then subject to survey, residents could get up to 30Mb/s broadband at the same price as BTInfinity.  The service could be running within weeks. More details on the service are here.  Someone from the community was needed to co-ordinate fund raising – there was much discussion afterwards as to who that might be.  Connect8 would be happy to be a vehicle to hold money, if someone was to come forward to organise on the ground.

In Stonor the service is already running from an antenna in Stonor deer park and a node will be installed on the barn at the Henley end of the village shortly.  The first customer to be connected from White Pond Farm was at the meeting and reported a good steady service at 29Mb/s not affected even by recent severe weather.

There is a good window for Pishill right now, VN are waiting to get an antenna on the police masts at Britwell Hill (the signal for Pishill will come from Stonor to an antenna, not Britwell) .  After that is turned on, VN will be busy connecting other communities.

To enquire or sign up use the contact details here. There’s a detailed set of questions and answers here.

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First wireless broadband connections for Connect8 ……

white-pond-1  Long awaited but now underway!white-pond-speedtest

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It’s underway ….

The starting point for the Wireless Broadband service in conjunction with Village Networks was to find a source of fibre in our area.

We found that at Stonor Park and by courtesy of the Hon. William Stonor and his father Lord Camoys, we have today been busy laying fibre cable from the house to a hilltop site where we will transmit to the Thames Valley Police masts at Britwell Hill

img_0081  the-mast-site-team

First in line for connection will be Stonor and Pishill but and then via Britwell Hill TVP masts toRussells Water, Cookley Green and Maidensgrove to follow and in other directions where BT coverage is not an option

Its taken two years, loads of meetings and head scrathching but we’re underway

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