A broadband briefing meeting for the parishes on Dartmoor near Mary Tavy was held at Mary Tavy Village Hall on 12th November 2015. This was hosted by the Connecting Devon & Somerset programme. It was reported that the programme is making good progress in rolling out Superfast broadband across Exmoor & Dartmoor. As part of this process the Worcester-based Airband company has been awarded a contract to deliver Superfast Broadband across Dartmoor. This will provide a 30mbs Superfast broadband service to the areas of Dartmoor National Park not served by the BT fibre optic cable network, including Brentor. The company has been contracted to provide the service to a minimum of 86% of the homes and business in these areas.
Three high capacity microwave transmitters around the edge of Dartmoor will feed encrypted Superfast broadband signals to about 50 smaller relay microwave transmitters, discretely located throughout the moor to provide the best coverage possible. These relay transmitters will broadcast to small microwave receiver/transmitter units on individual houses. We were told at the meeting that this would guarantee reliable unlimited superfast broadband connections with no slowing down at peak times. Quite different to our current service! We were also told that the service would be no more expensive than that provided through cable and that users could also have their telephone provided through the Airband system. There will be a one-off connection charge (about £100-£150) for installation of the receiver/transmitter. The actual broadband suppliers who bill users (ISPs) will be the same as for cable, such as Virgin Media, Talk Talk etc.
The caveat is that, to receive the service, the microwave receiver/transmitters on individual homes will need to have direct line of sight to the relay transmitters, with nothing (such as hills, buildings or even trees) in between. This may be difficult to achieve in practice to all properties in Brentor.
During last summer Airband engineers surveyed, in house by house detail, the areas to be served, including Brentor. We were told that by 20th November we should be able to find out which houses will be able to receive the service by visiting the Airband website (but in fact this did not happen). It was reported at the meeting that the Superfast Broadband service will be up and running by the middle of 2016.
The Editor spoke to Matt Barrow at Connecting Devon and Somerset on 27th November, since by that date the information about individual houses’ ability to receive the service was still not available on the Airband website. Mr Barrow explained that the delay was due to planning issues relating to the siting of the relay transmitters and was unable to give a new deadline for the publishing of this information. He told the Editor that if some houses in Brentor could not be provided with superfast broadband due to their location, Airband has also been tasked with providing a minimum of 12Mbs using other methods, such as satellite or radio technology.
If you wish to register interest in receiving Superfast broadband via Airband you should register interest on their website at www.airband.co, where you can enter your post code and other details to get a definitive idea of whether or not the service will reach you.
For more information and dates of sessions in other parishes you can contact Matt Barrow, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Connecting Devon & Somerset at firstname.lastname@example.org 01392 382221. You can visit the Connecting Devon and Somerset website by clicking here.
You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).
Colin Dawes, Editor