August 2011 - Community Broadband under threat

The government has allocated £590 million to enhance and improve broadband ; £30 million to Somerset and Devon County Councils. Rumour has it that this sum may either fund internal Council broadband solutions or be issued to a single supplier - creating unfair competition for independend suppliers like ours.

If our supplier can no longer compete then we may lose our broadband system for the third time in 6 years.

To lose broadband because of public funding

The system we have had since 2007 was made available via funds from the Office of the then Deputy Prime Minister. It would seem total madness that having benefited from public funds once that it could be application of further public funds which could destroy our community wireless broadband. Luxborough is only one of many villages in Somerset, Devon and Dorset who use and value the wonderful wireless systems from South West Internet. To destroy this and send these rural users back to the dark ages of dial-up or the medieval costly satellite would be criminal.

From 2003 to 2011 ...
         the good and the very VERY bad

Back in 2003, Colin and Penny who run a software house from Luxborough realised that, despite their campaign Broadband4Exmoor that Exmoor would suffer without broadband and that some communities, such as Luxborough would be too far from a BT exchange to receive ADSL.

To cut the story short after much effort we secured a high-speed symmetrical wireless system in 2004.

The first wireless system - July 2004

It entailed a supplier bringing the broadband from Taunton via the Surf Telecom mast at Elworthy and across to the top of Croydon Hill (above Churchtown, the highest of the 3 hamlets). Colin and Penny, with help from local farmers Malcolm and Brian Scott, and contractor, Neil Gregory, dug a 600 metre trench across 3 fields and laid power and fibre optic cable to the hamlet. A 6Mbps symmetrical supply was then spread, via wireless, around the Churchtown hamlet to all the homes and businesses who wanted it.

Creating the Luxborough Community Broadband Project

It would be unaffordable to do this commercially - we had already been told by suppliers that we would need 200 homes within sight of the church tower - so we created the Luxborough Community Broadband Project. Equipment was at cost and no-one charged for their efforts.

Our first loss - Feb 2005

Then, partially as a result of the Council giving funding to a competitive supplier, our supplier went bust.

The second system - satellite - Feb 2005

Within 5 days of the wireless company ceasing to supply, we managed to get an alternative - if inferior - service from multi-national satellite company, Aramiska.

The village wireless community broadband was then expanded via two 2km wireless links via Langham Farm to the hamlet of Kingsbridge, adding another bunch of happy broadband users.

Losing the 2nd system - Jan 2007

One Friday morning at the end of January we received an email from Aramiska saying that the broadband system would be ceased at noon. It did. Once again we were back to dial-up.

The third system - wireless - Feb 2007

To our delight the company which had received the funding, which is now known as South West Internet CIC came to our rescue and supplied us with high-speed symmetrical wireless broadband. Bliss !

For the last four and a half years they've provided us with an excellent system which has benefited the businesses, households and children of the village. We love and are very proud of our wireless system. A few houses at the far end of the village are able to get 256kbps ADSL but we are 11.5km from the exchange. BT calculate an approximate loss of 1Mbps per kilometre so that means most of are at -3.5Mbps !