Broadband update – Airband delivery up to one year late!

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Back in November 2015 we were told at a public meeting in Mary Tavy that Brentor would have a wireless broadband service by mid-2016.  Recent information from Connecting Devon and Somerset is that the transmitter planned for the Christchurch tower in the middle of the village will be installed by the end of June 2017 – a year late!  The application to the Diocese to install AirBand from Christ Church has been accepted, the church is now waiting for the formal license (essentially, planning authorisation).  As soon as that arrives (which should be by the end of June), the church will be asking AirBand to start work as soon as possible.  Therefore it appears that the installation, while going ahead, will run on from the deadline of the end of June.

Even when this transmitter is installed there will still be a large number of premises in Brentor that will probably not receive any service, due to hills or trees in their line of sight.  It also appears that even properties currently described by Airband as being able to receive a service cannot in reality get a signal due to trees etc in the line of sight and will still be unlikely to be able to get one when the Christchurch transmitter is operational.  

Some residents currently receiving a service from Airband report that, in adverse weather conditions, their signal is erratic.

At the November 2015 meeting we were told that the Airband network would be an ‘open’ service that can be used by any internet service supplier. In reality only small ISPs are willing to supply a service through the Airband system.  It now seems very unlikely that the larger ISPs, such as BT and Virgin, will supply their service via the Airband network as described at the meeting, so there will be very little price competition.

Many local villages and hamlets with overhead telephone cables are having these upgraded to fibre, but the link to Brentor is underground.  An email message from Openreach to the editor dated 16th January 2017 suggests that Brentor residents should consider part funding the cost of a fibre link to Mary Tavy themselves – although using the £20 per metre cost that Openreach quote this would cost £40,000 – £50,000 in total…….

There are plans to provide Fibre to the Customers at a distance from the Exchange (in Mary Tavy) however they are in early stages of Planning. I would request you to keep an eye on our website: http://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/when-can-i-get-fibre.aspx,  for latest updates.

I understand that you are looking for the options to get Fibre, I can suggest you to get together with neighbours or a local community group and raising the money to help build the network yourself. We offer a community fibre partnership scheme where we work with local communities to jointly fund fibre cabinets. We can’t always guarantee this will be feasible, but we’d be willing to look at it if you are interested. To find out more, visit our website https://www.homeandwork.openreach.co.uk/fibre-broadband/community-fibre-partnerships.aspx.

It should be noted that some other very small local hamlets such as Hornden and Cudlipptown are now connected by Openreach to the superfast fibre network at no extra cost to their residents, despite being in the designated Airband area!  Unlike Brentor, their fibre cables are being routed on existing poles.  The Government’s policy is that it is supporting investment to provide superfast broadband coverage to 95% by December 2017 – so it looks as if much Brentor will fall into the unlucky 5%.

You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).

For more information about how this issue has evolved click here

Colin Dawes, Editor