Rural Broadband in the news again

So Wiltshire has announced another 6 lucky locations that will be getting “superfast broadband” and meanwhile over on the BBC News, there are claims of the taxpayer being “ripped off” over the cost of rolling broadband out to rural areas.

There are some “interesting” comments on the BBC page about City vs Rural living and why should the towns supplement the country which will either make your laugh or rant but that is an aside.

Hightrees Organisation is based in a rural location, out of choice.  It was accepted that Dial Up was the only way of connecting to the Internet  at the time,  in  the same way that having mains gas was also out of the picture (and still is).  Skip forward a couple of years and along came BT’s Home Highway offering an ISDN2e service which was actually affordable for domestic/small business use.  Online almost instantly and you can make phone calls at the same time, that was a novelty!

<geek note> Interestingly, we managed to break Home Highway and could make 3 calls instead of the maximum of 2 which had the BT Engineers highly confused and saying “but you can’t do that” – to the point they actually came out with some new test equipment, drank lots of tea and still couldn’t work out how 3 channels could be used at the same time.

Skip forward a year or two and ADSL was made available, luckily as the Home Highway line was new, it was a simple switch over to the new always on ADSL service.  There have been some major outages, not always technical or the fault of BT – for a few years on the trot, around autumn, the phone lines to the village would disappear for a few days as the local farmer tried to gain a few more inches when ploughing and would cut through the cable.

Other houses in the area are not so lucky and we blogged about the most recent example but there are at least 3 other examples of where service has been promised and then for “technical reasons” can not be provided.  As a result, Hightrees has shared (for no cost before we get in trouble with our ISP!) its connection to a couple of houses within WiFI range so they can at least do their internet banking and “day to day” online activities.

At least 5 people locally were taken in by the “mobile internet” dongles if you can’t get broadband- yes, they are great if you can get a decent mobile signal in your house but 2G is still painfully slow and expensive ! Chances of getting 3G anytime soon – slim, 4G – as soon as the pigs start flying :)

Now, there must be a master plan for the new roll-out across Wiltshire, whether this is based on “most technically challenging first” or “easiest first” is unknown and we  can’t say we’ve have seen any “technical” documents on line either so there are no guarantees that this roll-out will be the answer to all those who can’t currently get an ADSL service at present.  Does it take into account those people with DAC’s and line splitters on their lines ? Does it take into account line capacity at the cabinet/exchange for those that are not already on the telephone network, i.e those that can’t actually get a voice line at present or new builds or home offices ? How about antiquated BT equipment which is still in use and currently is uneconomical to upgrade ?

Our area is ear-marked for Late 2014, but with the constant push for more people to be online NOW -in terms of paying bills, tax returns, looking for jobs, online only offers, working from home etc, does this mean another 12 months of prospective broadband customers being told “Broadband is available” followed by 2 months of no service to then be told out “we can’t connect you” ?…..and then when all the shiny new kit is available and working it, will be “Hello Prospective Customer, please buy our wonderful service but we still can’t guarantee you the service ?

We’ve literally just been asked to by someone locally if we could find out if they can get a broadband service installed so that they can use all the features on their new Smart TV – after the recent hassles experienced with BT, we’re dreading making the call to find out !