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Hampshire Village Gets Broadband
By: MarkJ - 24 January, 2004 (9:22 AM)

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has teamed up with broadband wireless provider FDM Broadband to successfully deliver high-speed Internet access into Kingsclere homes and businesses:

Hampshire village gets wireless broadband

Homes and businesses in Kingsclere have high-speed Internet access using a novel wireless technology from FDM Broadband after a successful community broadband campaign that is being hailed as a model for other rural villages in south of
England.

FDM Broadband, an Internet service provider specialising in bringing wireless broadband to rural areas, launched its service in the Hampshire village of Kingsclere after its Parish Council secured a 15,000 grant from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) to help subsidise the installation.

Villagers had initially hoped to petition BT to upgrade the local telephone exchange for ADSL, but decided to concentrate on FDM Broadband's wireless alternative after it became clear that they would have trouble finding the 500 subscribers that BT required before upgrading the local telephone exchange.

"Kingsclere's population is just 3,500, so BT's trigger level was unrealistically high," said Steve Allam, a local businessman who led the Kingsclere Broadband Campaign. "Rural businesses are falling behind their urban competitors in information technology, and we can't afford to wait a couple of years to get broadband. We had to act fast, and FDM told us they could begin installation if just 50 people registered their interest."

"Wireless broadband is a bit more expensive to install than ADSL, but with the help of the SEEDA grant, we have been able to subsidise the infrastucture costs so that individual subscribers' installation costs are competitive with what people in urban areas are paying for cable or ADSL broadband," explained Parish Councillor Peter Woodman.

"With more than 100 registered prospective subscribers, Kingsclere is well ahead of the national rate of ADSL takeup, which currently stands at around six percent of households," said Woodman. "Demand in rural areas is clearly no lower than it is in the cities; it's just less densely concentrated, which makes providing the infrastructure less attractive to the service providers. But why should rural businesses and businesses be left behind?"

"The big fixed-line providers have been reluctant to expand their infrastructure into many rural areas and have been very ambivalent in their dealings with rural communities like this one," said FDM Broadband managing director Karl Crossman. "If we want to avoid a major digital divide emerging in this country, wireless broadband is going to be essential to bringing broadband to the ten to 20 percent of the population who live in remote rural areas where other infrastructure is unavailable."

In theory, broadband can be delivered via cable television or specially-adapted telephone lines known as ADSL, but these services are not widely available in rural areas. The Government has urged rural villages to adopt a "DIY approach" to bringing broadband to their communities.


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