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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Day 1: rural broadband experiment

6 people in total through Cyberbarn. No-one was allowed to use Youtube, Facebook or anything else as I am now disastrously protective of the data allowance. This doesn't exactly make for a fun online experience but as I seem to be paying, can you blame me? This is how any rural family will be forced to behave at £15/GB. Here's what we spotted today..........

This blog post can be read at

Cleaning windows, talking to old friends, gossiping about the soap opera that is our village, even with anywhere between 3 and 5 IT savvy folks in Cyberbarn who don't actually appear to be touching a computer, uses anywhere from 3/4-10MB each 30 minutes. That was on the satellite which is currently operating at 64kbps whilst we negotiate the new contract. (Apparently, I should be ashamed to admit this speed, but I am very grateful to a supplier willing to talk to me whilst I also endeavour to track down someone from 3 with some authority to help this experiment proceed for at least one month using data as we wish to).

My maths isn't great at this hour, but hopefully @yarwell or someone will do the sums and work out the necessary info to show how 20.4MB at 64kbps in 30 mins works......

So, at 6pm, we were operating on this 'about to be 6Mbps but right now 64kbps' satellite and then Mr Popham walked in with the WiBe. His first speed test was 2.7Mbps. It was posted on Twitter. Bear in mind, Upper Eden is an area where the few sad folk amongst us who care report the tiny patches of 3G connectivity, mostly high on the fells (usually MOD land), in case 3G is ever required. Most ISPs will not sell a 3G dongle to anyone round here as the tests have clearly shown nowt is available. The WiBe proved otherwise and I have to admit to being instantly impressed.

Not having enough cat5 ends to crimp through to the load balancer and share this minor upgrade in connectivity, we all just decamped to the WiBe wifi!! This is where I spent too much time eating fishcakes whilst finding the usage stats, a car went off the road, the village soap opera erupted, and luckily, tomorrow is another day!

However, there is a post script to day 1: the speedtest I received from my own house via @johnpopham indicated a 3.7Mbps down and 1.49 up from his WiBe. I showed this to the people from the Haybergill Centre who have had a nightmare broadband scenario for far too long. Mick was sceptical for about 2 secs before reminding me there is 3G somewhere up on the MOD ranges behind them. I reminded him there wasn't in the village, but this bit of kit had found one. The WiBe is going up there ASAP to see if it may, once and for all, resolve the problems up there with the need to get online. So, big tick to @johnpophma for solving yet another Can't Get Online Challenge problem.

How do I feel: tired. Happy. And very, very sad. Why are we so pleased with a 3.7Mbps speedtest from a £200+ WiBe which has a £15/GB tariff? This could end up costing (on my home usage alone) 28 days x £15, £420/month in excess usage, to do the nothingness that I can do now. After three months of that level of usage (which obviously I would have put a stop to as soon as I discovered it as it is way beyond my personal and business resources) we could have put in FTTH.

I've always argued that the economic dynamics of FTTH must be looked at from a far wider view point than purely the telcos' profits. Right now, I am going to stand on top of the reality of Day 1 and shout out to you all: FTTH makes far more sense for everyone's pockets - telcos, councils, consumers, parishes, SMEs etc.

So, day 1: overall, sad. Bloody impressed with the WiBe and want it as an adjunct to my FTTH - can you build a femto cell into it too? Pleased to have better connectivity than CCC, CLEO and BT Global can provide from the fibre that lies less than 300m from my house, but so sad that rural folk are being so dreadfully curtailed for no good reason. And will be for many more years if this lunacy continues much longer.

Allow the geeks to touch a computer, their iPhone or a tablet, add a WiBe (thanks Richard!!!) and the stats go steadily and unceasingly upwards. Chuck a John Popham into the mix with Cant Get Online Week blog posts and photos to upload, and the TX/RX got into telephone numbers (it was measured in bytes, but even so!)

I'm still trying to resolve the WiBe stats (has anyone out there got a minute to help this very tired individual make sense of it all?) to actually clock what we did today but my calculations actually have us over 100MB for just over 2 hours (which is sort of terrifying if you only get 2 GB a month), but I am happy to log start/finish data from now on as today was a tad haphazard!

(Unpack WiBe whilst trying to eat my fishcake breakfast at 6.30pm, monitor stats asap, enjoy the company whilst dealing with developing Parish issues, and dragging a UK ONline learner out of a dark/hidden ditch!) Bit full on I thought but never a dull moment here ... ;)


Cybersavvy UK said...

Too tired now to have got all my editing right.

Am burning the candle at both ends and in the middle to make this community project work whilst destroying yet further my family and my own business to do so.

The twins are 18 on Sunday. Feel free to send them a card. The poor buggers have lived with this broadband obsession nearly all of their lives and they still see no end to it.

James Saunby said...

Hi Lindsey. 20.4 MB in 30 mins = 93 Kbps average speed.

James Saunby said...

Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. One point you might want to consider is FTTC. I know you're not a fan, and distance from the cabinet is a problem in many rural areas, but I don't think you can just ignore it.

chris said...

James. Rural areas don't have any cabinets. and even if they did our homes are too far from them. You have been to Warcop. You know this. If everyone could get fttc this blog wouldn't exist, just like if everyone could have got adsl we wouldn't be here. We would just move at the speed of the telcos, who add more capacity when people are screaming and no sooner. The fact remains they proclaim everyone can get online, and its an outright porkie. Also if funding was used to do the job properly and get fibre to the rural areas we could solve the problem once and for all, but all the current round of funding is going to do is to patch up the copper for another generation and keep us on the scarcity model that lines the pockets of BT shareholders. With the odd few millions for the fatcats at the top.
I guess it keeps a few consultants in jobs too.
Bring on the fibre. Moral and optic.

PhilT said...

There are data tariffs from Three like £15 for 10 GB, so you ought not to be on a 1 GB tariff and paying very high overuse fees.

chris said...

thanks Phil
the 1gig was what came free with it. We are now on a different tariff, there are quite a few to choose from when you look at the site.