Media coverage of other rural communities with broadband problems and technology solutions

I’ll occasionally write a post with links to media coverage of other communities around the UK who have trouble getting any or modern broadband.  And cover as well any new technologies that seem promising for us in the South Chilterns.

Wales – in rural Wales Openreach has deployed fibre optic cable by stringing it from telephone poles for a record distance of 15km. This is hard to do as glass fibre is more brittle than copper wires. But they emphasise how much work has to go into extending a clapped out rural network – Ed Hunt of Superfast Cymru  says:

‘Every single green roadside cabinet is a project in its own right. It’s got to be planned, you’ve got to put a concrete plinth down, you’ve got to bring the cabinet to it, you have to bring power to it, you have to bring fibre to it, it has to be commissioned, it has to be safety-checked. There’s a whole series of activities.’

In Cumbria a technology that could be promising in hilly South Chilterns is being trialled.  This Mesh technology brings broadband to one house and then uses microwave radio to sort of daisy chain houses together locally.  So there is no need for wiring and each house does not have to be visible from a distant radio mast.  This makes it much cheaper and quicker to install.

‘New EE micro network changes the economics of mobile coverage by removing the requirement to build large masts and install sub-ground cables….The micro network can connect communities of around 100-150 homes and businesses, across an area of 0.5 square miles with just three or four small antennas. An antenna can be installed on to any building in just a few hours, and planning applications are not required’

It’s interesting that ee is involved in this – they are the only operator i think to have deployed 4G locally (from somewhere near Christmas Common). It’s good to have a major company behind a new technology.  It’s not superfast (yet) at 5mbs but a lot of people locally would kill for a reliable 5mbs service.

Over in Herefordshire villagers in Fownhope have had some success with a campaign for a better mobile phone signal benefitting from Vodafone’s Open Sure Signal campaign to tackle rural ‘not spots’ .

‘What is Open Sure Signal?
It’s a low-powered 3G mobile base station, just a bit larger than your home broadband box. It works with a local broadband connection to create a 3G signal.

What can it do?
• Each Open Sure Signal provides up to 500 metres of 3G coverage.
• If you’re on our network you’ll be able to use the 3G signal as long as you’re in range of a unit.
• Working together, all our Open Sure Signal units will offer coverage across your community, ensuring you never lose

Of course there is a chicken and egg here – you need to have some local broadband (4Mbs) to get one of these working, but it might be relevant for some of the Connect8 communities.

In rural Shropshire, people seem to be as fed up as local who are contacting Connect8.  They too see government money going to subsidise people who already have a functioning broadband service, not to those who have barely any or no service at all and are in the most need.  This heartfelt appeal from a farmer in Middlehope near Craven Arms reported in the Shropshire Star will sound familiar to many in the South Chilterns.

“My house is situated down a lane two miles long, the telephone lines passing through much woodland on the way,” he said. “We have reported numerous faults to BT for both landline and broadband. In 15 years we must have had in excess of 50 engineer call outs. These call outs do not reflect the other countless occasions when the service has just drifted back without the need for an engineer call-out. At one point we were without telephones for more than a month.  I personally must have spent three working weeks pleading with BT for a better service, or any service at all.”

If you have spotted any articles you’d like me to share here please let us know.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
This entry was posted in Britwell Hill, Cookley Green, Greenfield, Howe Hill, Maidensgrove, Park Corner, Pishill with Stonor, Russells Water, Swyncombe and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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