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Progress in Connect8’s Campaign for Fast Broadband in South Oxfordshire

Monday, October 24th, 2016 (2:26 pm) - Score 609

The Connect8 campaign, which has been fighting to bring faster broadband to eight rural villages in South Oxfordshire (Howe Hill, Britwell Hill, Cookley Green, Greenfield, Park Corner, Pishill with Stonor, Russells Water and Swyncombe), appears to be seeing some positive progress.

Local residents, many of whom have had to suffer sub-1Mbps download speeds for far too long, began the campaign in 2014 after BT (Openreach) and the state-aid supported Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project were unable to offer a solid commitment towards future coverage.

However Openreach’s engineers have recently begun to deploy a number of new ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) based broadband services into the area, particularly around Howe Hill, Christmas Common, Stonor and so forth. Overall around 70% of the area could potentially be reached by December 2017.

However that leaves around 30% of the area un-served and so the campaign has been working with fixed wireless ISP (Village Networks) to help build a new ‘up to’ 24Mbps capable service. The good news is that the wireless network, which looks set to cost around £10,000 for just the “early work“, should begin to cover people in Stonor from late November 2016 and more will follow.

William Perrin, Connect 8’s co-Founder, said:

“Good news for local broadband – the first bit of the Village Networks broadband for our hills and valleys has gone live. We hope to deliver a 20mbs service to people in Stonor around the end of November and Russells Water and Britwell Hill in December. We now need some help from local people.

The wireless network is being supported by an old unused fibre optic link in the Stonor Park area, which is going through a “relighting” phase and will then be used to carry 1Gbps of backhaul traffic. After that the ISP will setup a 1.8 metre high scaffold pole / fence post amidst a clump of saplings at the top of a nearby hill, with a pair of small aerials attached.

Once completed the radio signal will be sent into Stonor village and then up to the Thames Valley Police radio masts at Britwell Hill, which should be able to cover the local communities. Apparently Connect 8 has already had two offers to cash flow the start-up phase and as a result the work can begin.

In keeping with this the campaign group has set-up a company limited by guarantee, called ‘Connecteight Limited‘, to receive / manage the funds (the structure often used by sports clubs etc. for non-profit endeavours).

William Perrin added:

“The fibre to Stonor Park has now been turned on (‘lit’ as they say) and fibre and power will be run up the hill in w/c 7 November. From the deer park pole Village Networks plan to send the signal down into Stonor Village to a prominent building and then relay it along the village from there to individual houses. If you have such a building (a barn say or tall house with a decent view along the village), please get in touch.

We are waiting for the final paperwork from the police to put equipment onto their Britwell Hill antennas, from where Village Networks will relay the signal to local communities.

Residents can expect to pay £40 per month inc. VAT for an unlimited up to 24Mbps download / 2Mbps upload broadband service over the new wireless network. Meanwhile those covered by Openreach’s FTTC cabinets will obviously have a wider selection of various different ISPs and packages / prices to choose from.

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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.
Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Steve Jones says:

    Jeremy Paxman lives in Stonor (and very nice it is), but I don’t think it’s the lack of broadband that has been keeping him off of social media.

    “Twitter is for people with nothing going on in their lives”

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jun/19/jeremy-paxman-twitter-newsnight-bbc-channel-4-jon-snow

  2. Big Jock says:

    Quite strange with the cabinet being painted black instead of green looks horrid

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I suspect that may just be due to how the picture was taken. A dark green can easily look black in certain light and shadow.

    2. wirelesspacman says:

      At night for example 🙂

    3. Steve Jones says:

      This could so easily become an is it a blue dress, or is it a white dress threads…

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress

      (Of course it’s just a standard green cabinet and it’s just the way the photo has been rendered. The cabinets are pre-painted, very probably powder coated, to a standard colout – I think, but it does look a little bit black).

    4. I’m not so sure it is green. The surrounding grass looks quite green to me.

      Any local laws/rules in this area that street furniture has to be black?

    5. DTMark says:

      I thought it would be dark green and that it appears black is just a lighting effect.

      Point samples in Photoshop at the areas with direct light towards the top left show it to be in the green spectrum and the others are inconclusive.

  3. wireless pacman says:

    I’ll go for British racing green after an oil leak!

  4. Diggory says:

    I live near there, and have taken a rather geeky interest in the rollout.

    I’ve made a map of the cabinets near Nettlebed which may help illustrate: (green are live, blue are built/partly built but not yet live, red have no apparent work yet but have planning notices.)

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Q3MMeDZ06wsQFcmDWfbWZpCbTAU

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