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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Final 10% Rural Broadband Experiment

We are going to set to and provide the hard evidence required on paper to prove that mobile and satellite are insufficient for AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE, PRESENT DAY INTERNET ACCESS in rural areas for your average family, farm, business, OAP etc. What we intend to prove is that the payment pain for these and any next generation solutions is going to fall heavily on the users, whilst the telcos get off scot free from investing in long-term answers already obvious to all. This could no doubt offer excuses for yet further delaying tactics from incumbents, ministers et al through said evidence but hey ho............

This blog post can be read at

Cyberbarn is now open (Mon, Weds, Fri, 1-7pm if you care to drop in). It is already connected to a satellite dish and in a few hours it will also enjoy a mobile broadband connection through a WiBe lent by Rural Broadband's Richard Dix as part of John Popham's Can't get Online Week - cheers all!

Each GB of data over and above 2 per month (under negotiation and a tad pathetic compared to that permissible on most ISPs FUPs for town dwellers - 30 in my house and then £1 per GB thereafter) will cost us £15. There is NO funding for data (not even, yet, a generous mobile or satellite provider to allow us to capture stats without constant reductions on speed during the month - hint, hint) so guess which mug is paying or who in this rural community will suffer when I can't pay for data before food?

Filming A Notspot (mp3)

Looking at the current usage on the satellite by a normal everyday family (who featured on one of Rory Cellan-Jones' broadband news items a couple of years back about dial up agony before I put the satellite in), and the mobile usage by myself and a couple of others round here, we are all going to be paying more in bandwidth than in electricity, water etc, simply by opening the doors of Cyberbarn and encouraging people to Get Online as MLF wants us to. But, hey, I bet the implications of that doesn't hit the news as hard as the next electricity or gas price hike.

We are all constantly told that satellite and mobile will solve the final 10% so having installed Cyberbarn deliberately in that space, let's see.

(For those who are not aware, there is no ADSL available to any of the premises around or beyond Cyberbarn as it is too far from the exchange. The nearby village, approx a mile down the road, is almost entirely sub 2Mbps, according to both anecdotal data, speedtests, and the BDUK and Ofcom stats for Cumbria which we mapped a while back). Oh, except the Primary School but that is a whole other story dying to be told.

If anyone wants to see what happens when you allow the peasants free access to (halfway fast) data - 6Mbps on the sat and we'll add the WiBe speedtests to @cyberdoyle's cyberwave as soon as we are wired in, feel free to send £15 for a 1GB top up on either the WiBe or the satellite to keep them operating at their 'full' speeds. Not that I am expecting anyone to give us 1GB of data, but if you feel you should for the purpose of a decent experiment, UECP (the Upper Eden Community Partnership) can provide a Paypal account for Cyberbarn. Just comment below if you want one or if you know/are David Dyson, CEO of 3.

I think we know what the reality will be, but hell, let's give it a spin and prove it to those who refuse to believe us that fibre to the home is the only real solution. After all, who will be £1250 out of pocket, per home, if the peasants are paying monthly data tariff fees of £15 per GB rather than telcos putting in a 25-50 year solution for that money?

I'm going to go into this in more detail shortly as I find it deeply offensive that govt can dish out £950M and expect at least £6 per £1 private investment back for industry, and not even begin to apply the same thinking to consumers with the BDUK money. How many £££s is the BDUK cash stimulating from private investment and how much will be dragged from our pockets without ever being accounted for? The pilot projects in Cumbria alone must have already put in tens of thousands of pounds of private money and we haven't seen a bean invested yet in connectivity.

Perhaps this is just yet another tax on those of us who "choose" to live in rural areas? £1 or less per GB in town on a bog standard ADSL or cable connection vs £15/GB in the campo doesn't quite add up in my mind. When our average earnings are already only 63% OR LESS of you city dwellers and our fuel is 10+p a litre more and the hospital/supermarket/courts/County Council offices etc are 40 miles away compared to your 2-5 miles. And our connections don't work and we are being hit with 15 times what you are paying per GB (a DVD is 660MB and our mobile libraries no longer stock DVDs as we can apparently download them.....).

I could go on with how our lives are costing us more and more to produce food whilst city folk and Westminsterites pay less and less for it.

(Don't believe me that we really are?

WE produce your food, that's your steak out of the Cyberbarn viewing window. Cyberdoyle produces your milk.)

Add it up. Rural folks are being taxed out of existence and the digital divide is widening rapidly.

But, enough moaning. To work. Let's see what we can prove in the comms arena for Neelie, Jeremy, Ian et al....


PhilT said...

Do you get a Megabucket for confusing DVD (4.3 GB) and CD (700 MB) ?

Cybersavvy UK said...

Probably - I'll move one from that side of the desk to this!

Never downloaded a film in my life as it is too irksome to bother and no time to watch a film, and am still on vinyl and cassettes as that is what I have in my collection and no way of expanding it, legally. So 'scuse the ignorance and I stand corrected. Not that it will make the slightest difference to my media usage habits, but cheers for pointing out that Cumbria County Council are even more deluded in removing DVDs from the mobile libraries than I previously thought.