Thames Valley Police – can we share the Britwell Hill Masts?

It’s possible that the police radio and mobile phone station on the top of Britwell Hill could be useful for broadband to our communities.  I have written to one of their radio engineers who manages mast sharing with some questions. Here’s the guts of the email:

We are looking at our options for bringing modern broadband up to the scattered rural communities around the top of Britwell Hill, where your mast site is – at the moment no one in the hamlets around there can get more than 0.5mbs many can’t get anything at all. It’s a long way from Watlington Spring Lane and Nettlebed exchanges. We are scoping our technology options with OCC, SODC Openreach, BT and some altnets – some of which might involve the mast site. With respect to the masts there are two issues – bringing higher bandwidths to the top of the ridge and distributing that to local communities.

We should be grateful for your views on the following issues we are exploring – some technology, some economics.

Could you tell us a little about the site – what it is used for?

We understand from Openreach engineers on the ground that direct ducting may exist from the Britwell Hill mast site to Watlington Spring Lane – but Openreach are having trouble confirming this. Do you know if this is the case? This could be enormously useful to us if it is a shorter run to Watlington than the long path the retail telecoms follows.

We understand that backhaul from the ee and Airwave(?) antennas is via a Megastream product from Watlington. Are there any plans to upgrade this for your own use or to allow you to offer leases to 3G or 4G providers?

Would you consider allowing Openreach to put a fibre cabinet onsite (paying a commercial rate for power etc) for retail use locally?

We are talking to a couple of companies about local microwave distribution direct to small antennas on homes (eg AB Internet) which seems a more cost effective way of serving scattered local hamlets. Could you lease space on your masts for that and associated cabinets?

Would you consider a bundled approach where TVP and a microwave provider (say) and the community club together to improve backhaul to the masts from which we all benefit

I notice today that the government has published basic maps of public sector owned networks and points of presence including MOD (the police i presume is in a later release) to help with issues including broadband. Can i plant the thought with you that, if connect8 sets up a local charitable vehicle for broadband around britwell hill and there are solutions involving TVP masts we could negotiate a community rate for their use?

If it’s easier to discuss this over the phone then give me a call sometime on

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.
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