It is now very unclear when BT Openreach will get around to upgrading us. Last March they said June, last June September, last September December and now they just do not know. The technical problem is that we have no cabinets - we all connect to the exchange, but of course we knew this (this was why Rutland Telecom could not help us years ago). There is a fibre (with plenty of capacity) at Blakelsey exchange, but connecting this to actual users using BT DSL technology limits the rates, partly because many cables go to the old exchange location on the Green and then double back to the ‘new’ exchange at the bottom of the High St.

Our local MP Andrea Leadsom (who connects to Tove Valley) has been very helpful, as have local councillors (thanks Sandi!), but we are not making any obvious progress. There may be other options. Tove Valley Broadband in the next valley over have been very successful in delivering multi-10’s-MBits (symmetrical) to more than 400 users at very competitive rates, by doing a lot of this themselves. They use external WiFi for local distribution and buried fibre to get between village access points.

We might do a number of things. For example Tove Valley are proposing to set up a new (wirelessly-linked) access point above Woodend, relatively soon (say before summer 2015). We might be able to connect a Blakesley access point (also using C band microwave radio = a small dish) to this, allowing a limited number of people to connect at superfast rates using external WiFi (limited because the total capacity would not be huge). This is relatively cheap to do and relatively fast.

We could also install a fibre cable across the fields to a fibre access point on Tove’s network, perhaps in Slapton, subject to agreement by landowners. This would allow a much larger number of people to access at high speed from a number of access points that we would need to set up.

We could approach someone (Virgin for example) who could rent capacity from BT (on the existing Blakelsey fibre) and provide us with fast access that way - with us also doing much of the distribution.

And there might be other options, for example by talking to Oclaro down the road.

Overall capital cost would be substantial - perhaps £1k per connected house or more, but the rates we would actually have to charge to cover this and rentals might be very competitive, especially if we can do a lot ourselves.

If you are interested please email me (& tell your friends!) so that I can make a list. Please say how you are interested or might be able to help. For example what rate (up and down) you would like, where you are, whether you are private or a small business (or both), whether you might consider investing and anything else you think might be useful (such as helpful skills).


Will Stewart