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Connect8 Moots Wireless Broadband Solution for Rural South Oxfordshire

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 (10:08 am) - Score 466

The Connect8 campaign, which represents the residents of eight rural villages in southern Oxfordshire where BT have refused to upgrade (Howe Hill, Britwell Hill, Cookley Green, Greenfield, Park Corner, Pishill with Stonor, Russells Water and Swyncombe), looks set to adopt a fixed wireless broadband network to fix the problems.

As a quick recap, the locals originally clubbed together after the state-aid supported Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project indicated that many of the villages would be unlikely to benefit for several more years, if ever (here). At present most can only receive a sub-1Mbps connection and others struggle to get any kind of stable broadband.

The campaign’s original plan was thus to persuade BT to conduct an upgrade, although apparently the operator wanted “many tens of thousands of pounds” in order to bring faster broadband to the area and so that idea has now been shelved.

But all is not lost because a somewhat dated looking fixed wireless broadband ISP called Countryside Broadband just so happens to be operating some 6 miles away and work is now being undertaken to see if this could be extended and possibly improved.

Peter Richardson of Connect 8 said:

The service isn’t ‘superfast’ yet (it could be in the future) but it seems to offer what local people are telling us at Connect8 they want – a simple reliable service, good enough to play a part in the modern connected world. Every customer would have their own IP address.

Connect8 has been to meet Countryside Broadband and talked to their customers – we have seen the service working and it’s very good, customers seems happy with it. We are also confident that Countryside Broadband can deliver to much of the Connect8 area. So we are exploring bringing their service to our part of the Chilterns.”

At present the best that Countryside Broadband can offer, which it apparently supplies to 170 customers, is a steady 10Mbps connection for £30 a month. The service being envisaged for the Connect8 areas is likely to be much the same (possibly £5 cheaper rental, with a £45+ installation charge). Obviously this is a long way from being “superfast” (24Mbps+), but when you’re use to sub-1Mbps then it’s still ten times faster.

The campaign has now started gathering interest from locals and after this, provided there’s enough support, then a “concrete” plan to establish a “not for profit vehicle with connect8 to contract with Countryside Broadband” should follow.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. DTMark says:

    This doesn’t make sense. BDUK contracts were for everyone to get 2Mbps+ (by end of this year?) so there will already have been planning to bring that to these areas and the technical solution must already be known otherwise the contracts could not have gone ahead.

    Because the LA wouldn’t have signed off on them if the goals weren’t going to be met and BT wouldn’t have signed off on them without calculating costs of said deployment. Nor would BDUK have given them the go-ahead if the project didn’t meet the goals.

    So what does the LA say – when it the upgrade for these areas scheduled for? They must know, if not, they can ask BT, who in turn must know. There’s no need for secrecy.

    Is this a case of building a potential white elephant now, so that are moves up the BDUK queue as it then becomes more important to BT?

    1. fastman2 says:

      these are a group of premises spread over around 5 – 6 exchanges of wich some you would expect to get benefit from BDUK

      really hard to do , massive expensive especially as premises very spread over a number of exchange boundaries

    2. DTMark says:

      I’m not seeing how any of that makes any difference to the points I made.

    3. fastman2 says:

      So what does the LA say – when it the upgrade for these areas scheduled for? They must know, if not, they can ask BT, who in turn must know. There’s no need for secrecy.

      my statement just confirm your assesment — to hard, too rural last X%

    4. DTMark says:

      “to hard, too rural last X%”

      BDUK contracts were for everyone to get 2Mbps+ (by end of this year?)

      They were not about BT cherry-picking areas it might or might not like to do. Indeed that was the very basis, or ethos, of BDUK itself.

  2. Bill Lewis says:

    If some counties didn’t let BT target competitors with BDUK money and instead it was used for areas with no real choice then this issue wouldn’t hardly exist.

    But the issue is, Councils are not businesses and are ill equipped to negotiate and control a behemoth like BT.

    That said, as soon as this wireless goes live, there will no doubt be a much increased interest by BT to over build it, preferably with some state funds to do it.

    If the community/wireless group offer VoIP telephone then this really rattles the exchange owning beast as people are very reluctant to go back to restrictive and poor value phone lines once they escape!

    Bill

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