On 10th September 2015 Paul Devlin wrote to Connecting Cumbria (copy to Tim Farron MP)
with an enquiry about the availability of grant funding for alternative technologies that
might bring Superfast Broadband to Torver. This page was created to present
that and the ensuing correspondence in an easily read form.
Further correspondence may be added over time.
From Paul Devlin to Connect Cumbria - 10/09/2015:
As it doesn’t look as though our community will be moving into 21st century technology, i.e. superfast rollout (quite an oxymoron there!), are there grants available for communities to explore alternative technologies such as microwave broadband and the high local costs of setting up?.
Regards Paul Devlin, Torver
Reply to Paul from Connect Cumbria (18/09/2015):
Thank you for your email regarding superfast broadband.
Unfortunately, due to further analysis I can now confirm that you are not currently in a postcode that will be upgraded as part of Phase 1.
When the Connecting Cumbria (Phase 2) project has been initiated later in 2015 we will have additional plans to upgrade in Cumbria. Parts of this postcode area may then be included in the Connecting Cumbria (Phase 2) project plans with the deployment being subject to survey and the successful preparation of technical designs prior to commencing upgrade works. Works would be completed prior to the end of 2017.
In terms of community builds you would need to liaise with your community and then contact BT Openreach to propose your plans.
Hope this helps, Amy Jones, Connecting Cumbria, Environment and Community Services, Cumbria County Council
(At Paul's request this enquiry and response were sent out to villagers through the Nobbut Email Service)
Nobbut reply to Paul (19/09/2015):
Thanks, Paul. Chris Bradley is our councillor responsible for exploring Superfast Broadband and I’ve asked him if he has looked into community build and if he thinks it’s worth pursuing. I’ll keep you posted. I note in the response: “Phase 2”... “parts of the postcode”...” “end of 2017” – Not inspiring, is it? If we get anything I’m sure the centre will be covered, but how they can serve the outlying homes is another story. Pole-top relays has been suggested, but if we can get a decent base station (box) in the village the reduction in telephone line lengths should help. Not that I know what the hell I’m talking about.
Reply from Paul to Nobbut (19/09/2015:
We are getting wireless broadband installed at the garage, due this next month from www.kencomp.net and it is possible to then relay it via line of sight to individual properties, not the cheapest but an improvement, worth going to the website. If anything a new debate will start.
Paul. ♣ additional comment right column
Response from Chris Bradley (21/09/2015):
The community build option was explored some time ago. These usually involve members of the community doing the groundworks and a fund generated by interested parties in the community paying for the specialist companies to install the fibre and related hardware. The current route for the telephones is overhead from Coniston along the line of the road. Fibre can't be installed overhead, and must therefore go underground. The road route has rock very close to the surface and digging a new trench along the entirety of the road would be prohibitive from a cost perspective. An alternative was proposed which involved taking the route underground along the footpath from Coniston, along the lakeshore and up across the common or up the road to the Old Rectory. The National Trust (major landowner) were supportive in principle, however there are still considerable difficulties from the point of view of the rock and I have been advised that the NT aren't keen on allowing private individuals to carry out works on their land has they have understandable concerns over the public liability they incur due to visitors using the paths as an amenity and an uncertainty over the quality of the works. They prefer professional contractors, which rather defeats the object of a community build as it becomes very expensive again.
The hope for Phase 2 is that the technology of pole mounted repeaters becomes sufficiently robust and effective that it will be considered a cost effective solution to Torver being upgraded this way. The jury is still out as to whether the solution fits our situation and whether we are worth investing funds in as a community.
Paul mentions the wireless microwave at the garage. I have spoken to Jason about this in the past and the hope is that when the garage system is up and running, there will be the possibility of 'bouncing' a microwave signal from property, to property by way of repeaters. Clearly being in the hills, we aren't in the best of situations, so it makes sense to get someone on board who is higher up and has a decent view of the village. When ready the plan is to get in touch with everyone to gauge the level of interest given the higher cost of this option over the 'free' Connecting Cumbria offering. You can get some idea of the cost by visiting the Kencomp website.
I hope this helps.
Please send in yours to email@example.com
1 From David Rogers (19/09/15):
The self-build option seems unlikely, as I thought it would be. My own research shows that villages investing in such schemes are either a lot bigger than Torver (more people to spread the cost) or small enough area-wise for local volunteers to run fibre optic cables from house to house. Pole-top repeaters does seem the most likely option if the technology is there. Also, I wonder if it's worth considering the wireless microwave 'bouncing' option until we're sure Connecting Cumbria won't come through given the expense involved.I have looked into the possibility of satellite broadband, but it does have problems, the biggest being the expense. Also high (slow) 'ping' rates due to the immense distance the signal has to travel, and traffic management problems (slow speeds at specific times).
2 Additional point from Paul (see left: ♣ ) (21/09/15)
One thing to add, the wireless can be daisy chained property to property, i.e. it starts at the garage goes to next and so on. Even if you do not have line of sight to garage you should have it with someone else.
3 Additional comment from Chris (22/09/15)
Whether to go with the Hadwins - Kencomp, peer to peer Torver network is a very difficult call indeed. I think a lot of people could be put off by the £350 up front fee, even if the monthly charge is deemed acceptable. As I understand it, there is also a degree of hedging regarding quality of the link during fog / heavy rain / snow etc although we would know more after this winter's install being tested at Hadwins. As the technology has a significant element of serial, peer to peer arrangement rather than radial, I don't know the implications on bandwidth available at each node as more and more subscribe to the same microwave link. It's a question for Kencomp.
Phase 2, and possibly 3 of the broadband rollout has a timeframe which is ever extending into the future, so I would personally go with the microwave if offered and put the £350 down as the price of impatience if BT roll up in a couple of year's time with a copper repeated equivalent at a cheaper monthly fee. I think that a repeated copper or 4G option is inevitable at some point, the revenue stream will be too tempting as the cost of technology falls. What I have no idea about is whether this will be 2 years, or 5 years into the future. Both of them sound too long, I ain't getting any younger :(
4 From Peter Worth (23/09/15)
Further to our telephone conversation, I’ve had equally frustrating replies from Connecting Cumbria.
Apparently a decision on where Phase 2 is to be rolled out is to be undertaken this Autumn. I did not get any reply as to a specific date for the appropriate meeting, so based on past experience of this sorry saga, this would indicate that it could pushed back into next year. Even then there is no certainty that:
· Torver would be included in the scope of Phase 2; nor
· Timescale, which could be some time in 2017/18 -
- and none of us are getting any younger!
I’m very interested in the Kencomp solution which Jason is getting to the Land Rover garage. I share Jason’s caution about this being a panacea until we see how it operates in practice.
As I mentioned I saw the Broadband for Rural North ( www.B4RN.org.uk ) project recently on the local news, which might offer a longer-term solution. This is a project based in Northern Lancashire from the Trough of Bowland northward up to the boundary with Cumbria and across to Silverdale. This is a collaborative venture which started with seven parishes to establish a quantum of interest to make the project viable. This expanded to the neighbouring 10 parishes which formed the nucleus of Phase 1. This has further expanded to taken in parishes up to Leck and Caton, which are as similarly isolated as a parish like Torver, and will experience similar terrain issues with the underlying geology (i.e. shallow soil etc). What I think is really interesting is that this appears to be a genuine community project with volunteers helping lay cable etc. The other thing is that the B4RN approach brings fibre optic cable to the house rather than the box (which is the BT approach) so provide 1,000 Mb/sec speeds which they claim is the fastest in the World putting them in the same league as speeds in Singapore!
Whilst Torver itself is a small village this may be something that other neighbouring parishes would be interested in to enable a sufficient quantum of interest to make this financially viable.
5 From Carole Barr (23/09/15):
It is clear that we need to be more proactive if we want Superfast Broadband but actually how much do most of us understand about this. I don't think most people understand that even with a live cabinet within a kilometer of your home you will still have to purchase Superfast from a provider. There are now some good deals on this. My suggestion is:
a. The Parish Council take up a presentation on
behalf of Connecting Cumbria to explain fully
about Superfast and the issues for Torver.
b. A Working Group is set up including our Parish
Council Champion to look what the village take
up would be, what skills the village could bring
to a project, engage with landowners and look
This can be done whilst we wait to see what might happen as Connecting Cumbria rolls out further coverage.
6 From David Rogers (25/09/15):
I've been wondering about the Kencomp wireless broadband system coming to Hadwins and Paul's mention that it could be 'daisy chained', house to house to cover the rest of Torver. My first thought is that even to reach the village centre the only possible 'line of sight' properties (I think) are Park Ground, Greystones and High Torver Park, the last being a holiday let and therefore not likely. Assuming one of the other two can be persuaded to invest the £350 set up and monthly charge, it might then reach Souterstead and Crook, but how could the wireless signal then be hopped to Rose Hill, Greaves Ground and Haveriggholme up the Old Dalton Road, or to Greenrigg and Bank End, or down to Sunnybank, none of which areas have line-of-sight to anywhere else? Rose Hill to Greenrigg, possibly, but neither has l-of-s to the village centre. Kencomp may be suitable for a few properties, but it cannot be the solution for the whole of Torver, assuming, of course, that I have not misunderstood the logistics of the system. Whatever the true lines-of-sight are, for the system to bounce from house to house to all the outlying properties almost every home would need to be on the system, an unlikely prospect at £350 per home.