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Church Could Boost Broadband for Homes Around Boston in Lincolnshire

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 (9:55 am) - Score 722
st_botolphs_church

In an interesting development the MP for Boston and Skegness in Lincolnshire, Matt Warman, has proposed to improve local superfast broadband connectivity by installing wireless kit on the top of St Botolph’s Church in central Boston. It’s a good idea, except others are already doing the same.

The port town of Boston is already home to a fair amount of “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) connectivity via BTOpenreach’s national UK network, but it’s a much more varied picture for those who live in the outlying rural areas where there are still slowspots to be found.

Matt Warman said (here):

“This is about providing a service that is better than anything that is currently available and fills in a gap and my role here is not to plug any one company it’s to try and get together a diverse mixture of companies and solutions so people’s problems go some way to getting solved.”

Apparently Warman, who only last month held a Government debate on the issue of broadband notspots (here), has already had a meeting with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and wireless ISP Air Broadband in order to discuss the possibility, which would catering for miles of surrounding countryside by installing a high-powered 80Mbps capable wireless transmitter on top of the church.

So far so good, except it’s difficult to see how this would be any different from the AB Internet’s local deployment, which already does much the same and offers max speeds of 50Mbps to many rural properties outside of the town. At this stage it’s unclear why AB Internet’s existing setup can’t simply be expanded upon or even if Warman is aware of the network.

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Mark Jackson
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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12 Responses
  1. Avatar John Miles

    Regardless of who provides the wireless broadband St Botolphs church tower could make a very good platform for it. It’s known (ironically) as Boston Stump and is one of the tallest structures for miles around, very noticeable for some miles given the flat surroundings.

    • I can’t be 100% sure, but looking at AB Internet’s coverage map it would appear to suggest that they’ve already installed the same sort of kit on the same church. There’s no point duplicating an investment unless they can clarify exactly what it aims to do that isn’t already being done.

  2. Avatar MikeW

    It looks like AB Internet’s coverage is meant to be 15km range, and looks like it is sited on top of the Boston hospital.

    The hospital looks like it attracts its fair share of antenna:
    http://www.skyscrapernews.com/picturedisplay.php?ref=4769&idi=Pilgrim+Hospital&self=nse&selfidi=4769PilgrimHospital_pic2.jpg&no=2

    Boston stump is higher than the hospital, but I bet it is much harder to get equipment and power up to the top. In any case, it doesn’t look like AB Internet’s coverage suffers from a height problem … that 15km range looks more like a technical/capacity limit; there are similar-size coverage circles overlapping on their map.

    Matt makes a big thing about being a tech-savvy MP, coming from a tech-savvy journalistic background. Perhaps that isn’t enough.

  3. Avatar dragoneast

    Church towers have been mooted as mast locations for a long time. Not least of the problems is the additional Church bureaucracy which it seems, even more so than their ministry, has a timescale geared to eternity.

    • Avatar TomD

      Agree – have seen no movement on the proposed use of church towers in rural Essex, even though their use was trumpeted loudly way back in 2012/3. Nice, neat, logical solution, but somehow it’s not really having much of an effect.

    • Avatar fastman

      TomD Where is Rural Essex Are you

    • Avatar TomD

      North-west Essex. FibreWiFi/CountyBB is not available here and mobile is very weak&patchy so some investment via masts on church towers could have done wonders. Probably too late now as BDUK is eventually getting round to covering us in a year or so.

    • Avatar MikeW

      In Boston’s case, being a grade 1 listed building might be a handicap too. I wonder how many other churches are affected.

      IIRC, the BT tower is grade 2 listed, and this stops them from removing obsolete microwave antenna.

    • Avatar gerarda

      We used churches for our community broadband service. We had little difficulty getting permission from the diocese. Planning permission is not an issue if you build your kit in the right way.

  4. Avatar DTMark

    One key thing that seems to be entirely missing is some sort of online database where you put in your postcode or address and see all the options available to you where you live.

    Without such a database, people won’t even know that they can avail themselves of an existing solution and it is not intuitive – if you want broadband – to go to the website of your local authority.

    Same for businesses which could take a solution from one of a number of providers, but who assume that BT is the only option. How would I know that there’s a FTTP service in a particular business district?

    And so likewise, how would the residents in the areas above know that they could have a wireless service?

    • Avatar MikeW

      North Yorkshire’s BDUK project has a map that does this – telling you which fixed and wireless networks are available to a postcode.

      But you’re right, it isn’t entirely intuitive.

  5. Avatar Andrew

    I take it the churches are happy to be transmitting p**n from their steeples then?
    🙂

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