back to article UK.gov calls on the Big Man – GOD – to boost rural broadband

The governent is looking towards the heavens in its bid to redeem rural broadband speeds, having exhausted all other options. The inspirational idea is an agreement between the Church of England and the government to encourage parishes to use their buildings to boost broadband, mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity. According to the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes sense, getting broadband in rural areas is a miracle.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      I thought it was already a thing. I seem to recall a story some years ago about replacing the lead and tiles on church steeples so that could be used as masts.

      1. Steve Evans

        I thought the idea of replacing the lead with something less metalic was just to stop Mr Pikey from nicking it!

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Location, location, location

    Depends of course where the church is located. In a delightful dingle in the Cotswolds with hills all around, it'll help but it's limited. In the Fens it would give coverage for miles.

    Which reminds me of a lovely tale, no IT angle. A friend was wandering around the Fens looking at old churches (as one does) and came across a spot in the middle of nowhere (basically, that's the definition of the Fens) with two massive churches next door to each other, and nothing else to be seen. While wandering around he's approached by wizened old grave-digger or similar who grins toothlessly and says "Aaar, bet yous wonderin why there's two churches here next to each other." "Yes, I was" "That's acos the third one burnt down!"

    Seems the 3 churches were all built together as they were on the only bit of raised, dry land in the three parishes, which happened to be at the point where they all met.

    So which one gets the mast?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a spot in the middle of nowhere (basically, that's the definition of the Fens)"

      Upvote for truth.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Location, location, location

      "So which one gets the mast?"

      The one with the spire instead of the square tower (or round tower - I think some Norfolk churches have those).

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Location, location, location

        "or round tower - I think some Norfolk churches have those"

        http://www.roundtowers.org.uk

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Location, location, location

          "http://www.roundtowers.org.uk"

          Thanks for the link. I'd assumed the reasoning was that they're built out of flint and flint doesn't do corners very well so making them round saves having to buy bricks or masonry for the quoins. And then part way down the page is some show-off who built a round tower part way up and stuck a hexagonal or octagonal tower on top of that!

          1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            Re: Location, location, location

            Received wisdom is that the round part of the tower is Saxon or early Norman. The octagonal top was added later for a belfry as the area got richer (at least one tower has a sixteen sided addition).

            The locals will tell you that the towers were originally flint lined well shafts and as the fens were drained ....

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Location, location, location

      "So which one gets the mast?"

      Voda on one EE on t'other.

      None for Three...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Location, location, location

        The Holy Trinity?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Location, location, location

      "That's acos the third one burnt down!"

      ... but didn't the first two sink into the swamp?

  3. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Bloody philistines

    Bloody philistines!

    Its enough of a problem getting a decent photograph of a 15th century church building without the electricity pylons cluttering the view, the last thing we want is the spire/tower cluttered with comms paraphernalia.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Bloody philistines

      The one's that i've seen have the masts inside the spire, so it's not visible externally.

  4. Mycho Silver badge

    DIY

    To remind people, more and more rural communities are wiring themselves up with the help of local partners and spades. E.g. Ashby de la Launde (which also serves Digby and other nearby locales by line of sight from their water tower)

    Far more effective for anything than a government.

  5. frank ly Silver badge

    A crucifix

    Does it have a useful or interesting radiation pattern?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: A crucifix

      Upwards?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: A crucifix

        Depends on how hard you drive the nails in.

    2. Spanners Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: A crucifix

      Only a non-ionising one..

  6. Disgruntled of TW
    Thumb Up

    Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

    ... as we will need fibre eventually. Wifi radio spectrum is a CDMA network i.e. it is a shared carrier so that if 50 people start using the same mast/radio/channel, and it has 50Mbps bandwidth, everyone will get 1 Mbps (simplified) which isn't likely to impress if they all want to watch the same footy match on BT Sport. Adding masts and radios and using multiple channels simply fudges the numbers, without solving the limited spectrum problem. It just kicks it down the road.

    Something is better than nothing, so the effort is to be applauded. Just like the VDSL network our government and Openreach have deployed under the "Superfast" nomenclature, its carrier capability is extremely limited in comparison to a physical fibre optic cable. It is also regret spend, as both VDSL and Wifi will not assist materially with deployment of the fibre we will need to everyone's property to embrace the opportunities of the future.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

      VDSL and Wifi will not assist materially with deployment of the fibre we will need to everyone's property to embrace the opportunities of the future.

      I can fully accept that rural businesses are likely to need better broadband than this proposal is likely to bring about, but I would be very grateful if someone could list all the "opportunities of the future" that will accrue from providing ubiquitous FTTP to domestic premises.

      It always strikes me as an unsubstantiated assertion to claim that manna will fall from heaven simply because domestic premises have eye - wateringly fast broadband.

      Cue downvotes, I daresay...

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

        I can fully accept that rural businesses are likely to need better broadband than this proposal is likely to bring about

        I don't think even that's necessarily true. There aren't many rural businesses that need video, but they do need e-mail that works even when the local cabinet is standing in water - most of them could manage with "basic but reliable" broadband, at least for the near future.

        I too wonder about the need for "eye - wateringly fast broadband" - the main use case still seems to be the passive consumption of entertainment which isn't exactly economically compelling even if it would permit the retirement of broadcast transmitters. FTTP does have other potential benefits in terms of maintenance, predictability of service and longevity but that will come at a cost.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

          I don't think even that's necessarily true. There aren't many rural businesses that need video, but they do need e-mail that works even when the local cabinet is standing in water - most of them could manage with "basic but reliable" broadband, at least for the near future.

          You could well be right, but substitute "farmers" for "rural businesses" and things start to look a bit different. By all accounts the farming community is now more or less forced to do on line that which it used to do by pen and paper, and having to download a (large) form from DEFRA, fill it in and then upload it again is consumptive of bandwidth, and time if the bandwidth isn't there to start with. The farming community has been disadvantaged by compulsion to go digital, and it is one group that would definitely benefit from better broadband.

          Other rural businesses? Then I suspect you are right; the need is "unproven" and we are stuck with the assertion that universal FTTP will result in a land of milk and honey, and I fail to see how, exactly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

            According to recent Tory think tank reports many small farmers won't survive be needed after the transition from Brexit.

            1. Henry Hallan
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

              The "recent Toty think tank" appears not to have noticed that the UK has a population density 15x that of New Zealand. The pressure on prices may be upward, rather than downward -- which may turn out to be good for the rural economy (with or without broadband.)

              1. Dagg

                Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

                The big difference is the NZ farmers make most of the money via exports. Saudi Arabia of milk anyone..

          2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

            @Commswonk

            It's true that farmers need to upload lots of DEFRA forms, but that doesn't need FTTP, or even 80Mbps FTTC - a good reliable 10Mbps should be more than adequate, but the problem usually is the 'good, reliable' aspect. As the phone to the average farm runs along a few strands of sheep fencing they ain't going to get 10Mbps, and even FTTC is unlikely to be any better if the last mile is wet string (as previously discussed). Arguably stringing some decent new copper would work, but if you're going through the faff of stringing new anything, you might as well make it fibre - or just get a good mobile package on 4G as many of my more isolated neighbours are doing.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

              "but if you're going through the faff of stringing new anything, you might as well make it fibre"

              That's the one justifiable use case. I can think of a few places so far off the beaten track that copper isn't going to be useful at all although, given that they're few in number I wonder if a point-to-point microwave link might work just as well, be cheaper and less of an eye-sore (those swags of wire between poles look fine in Ashley Jackson paintings, not so much in real landscape).

          3. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

            You don't need modern broadband speeds for exchanging red tape with government, no matter how extensive the forms farmers deal with. If farmers need it for business, it'll be their fancy precision equipment. Perhaps if things like the drone-mounted video camera and the smart combine harvester are exchanging data in real time via the cloud ...

            I wrote some thoughts on rural broadband a while back. The priority should be ADSL-grade always-on connectivity; superfast is not an issue.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...@Nick Kew

              >I wrote some thoughts on rural broadband a while back.

              Yes, it is clear from this short piece and your 'About' section, that you have zero real-world knowledge of the needs of rural internet users, especially farmers.

              >The priority should be ADSL-grade always-on connectivity

              What do you mean by this?

              A local farmer, who had need to exchange red tape with government, was practically unable to do this using the ADSL-grade line they had, due to it being approximately 5.3km long [FYI: Chart of ADSL and ADSL2+ Speed Versus Distance ]

              Now they have Gigaclear and completing the red tape is no longer the sole destroying chore it was before I got involved (we installed a mobile broadband router with external antenna - farmhouse with two foot thick stone walls, pointing at a mast ~1km away).

              Yes, the focus should be on 'reasonable' speeds, sufficient for normal/typical usage - which is where the proposed Broadband USO bar of 10Mbps is pitched. However, to achieve this in some areas you need fibre, which comes as standard with 'superfast' speeds...

              Aside: Given the rise of electric cars, and the associated demand for metals such as copper, I suspect BT will be wanting to remove the copper POTS network so as to take advantage of the increases in metals prices.

              1. dotdavid
                Headmaster

                Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...@Nick Kew

                > Now they have Gigaclear and completing the red tape is no longer the sole destroying chore it was before I got involved

                Sole-destroying? Did the farmer have to walk that 5.3K to deliver the red tape?!

                1. Roland6 Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...@Nick Kew

                  @dotdavid - well spotted :)

                  However, from the length of time needed to import data (well mostly wait for webpages to display) it would probably have been quicker.

        2. short

          Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

          Hang on - I'm a rural business, and bandwidth means I can Skype (or Zoom, or hangout, or whateerthehellcustomerwants) in to meetings without having to drag my arse across rural roads for an hour or more. 10Mbps will do, but crappy asymmetric and flaky *DSL, no chance.

          It's not (all) just form-filling farmers around here. We'll even pay for service (but not necessarily what BT/OR want to charge). Fat wireless links from chrches, as long as the backhaul's ok, would seem to fit the bill.

          It does sound like it's just a way to get masts without the planing hassles, though.

          1. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

            Hang on - I'm a rural business, and bandwidth means I can Skype (or Zoom, or hangout, or whateerthehellcustomerwants) in to meetings

            Yep. That's what 2Mb/s ADSL broadband did for me when it arrived in 2004. Made all the difference to my ability to work.

            Having twenty times faster than that now is nice, but makes very little difference. Except when it fails.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Good stuff but a sticking plaster fix ...

              >Yep. That's what 2Mb/s ADSL broadband did for me when it arrived in 2004. Made all the difference to my ability to work.

              Agree, getting initially 1.5 and subsequently 2.5~5Mbps mobile broadband made a huge difference in my ability to work from home.

              >Having twenty times faster than that now is nice, but makes very little difference.

              Having had circa 35/7Mbps FTTC for a couple of years now, I would disagree, but that is probably more to do with having teenagers playing on the Xbox and watching YouTube etc. during school holidays and it not impacting on my work usage.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not for £600 per year though!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Yes, I found it amusing on the radio (BBC) this morning that no one wanted to say what the likely income was going to be for hosting a mast [Aside: funny how everyone thinks only of the antenna array and fail to notice the rather large box(s) of equipment at the base of the mast...]

      So there was everyone thinking the reason was because rural churches would be getting thousands (a mast I had installed the roof of a local in town FE college, earned the college circa £12,000 pa. 20 years back), until a caller divulged the £600 pa figure, at which point I think people fell off their chairs laughing at the government, who once again have been shown to big things up; only to deliver pennies...

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Until recently our village shop had a small Vodaphone 'mast' (actually a box on the wall), and was getting £2000 p.a.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        A church in Norfolk

        A rather beautiful old church in Norfolk has offered to host a mast as long as the poor of the parish get a special lower rate. I thought this seemed pretty fair and decent. It's in a pretty deprived part of the county.

  8. TRT Silver badge

    FTTP.

    Fibre to the Pulpit.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: FTTP.

      Fibre to the Pulpit.

      Now that is simply brilliant.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: FTTP.

        Could be FTTC, Fibre to the Church.

  9. Locky Silver badge

    Slow internet connection

    Sorry, that's an act of God now. Nothing we can do.

  10. lglethal Silver badge
    Joke

    I'm waiting...

    ... for the first of these churches to start turning the Signal off during church times. Just a small incentive to raise attendances...

    "Now now everyone, if we dont have a full church next week, God might just cause there to be a small problem with the antenna and everyone's Internet might disappear for a week. You wouldnt want to anger God and have him do that, would you now?"

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I'm waiting...

      Those bits of God which passeth all understanding.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm waiting...

      "[...] start turning the Signal off during church times. Just a small incentive to raise attendances... [...]"

      Carrots are more effective than sticks. Just reduce the signal during Evensong - so the level is just reasonable inside the church. Bums sitting quietly on seats - even if they are still not paying attention.

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: I'm waiting...

      They don't want competition from an invisible power that actually works.

  11. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    WTF?

    I may be missing something

    But doesn't this require running expensive backhaul from rural church buildings to the main network?

    Given that a large part of the Church estate was built to support a massive rural agricultural labour force that has sinced moved to the cities, the majority of the buildings are now probably just sitting on their own in the middle of massive fields and fuck all else.

    This reads like a cosy Ministerial sound bite which distracts from the real problem of getting the infrastructure out to these places. I find it hard to believe that the only think preventing rural phone and mobile broadband deployment is the lack of suitable mast locations.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      A directional radio link to a place with an existing high speed connection. If there is a line of sight then high speed links are easy and cheap (at least compared to laying miles of copper or fiber).

      (An example - the Proxim Wireless QB-10150-LKL-WD has a range of over 10 miles and a speed of over 500 Mb/sec with a cost of under £5k for the hardware. (Not a user - this is just one of the first that popped up on a Google search.))

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I may be missing something

        >An example - the Proxim Wireless QB-10150-LKL-WD...

        It wasn't that long ago you could purchase a Ubiquiti airMAX network bridge from Maplin!

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      Probably this will involve Satellite uplinks a couple of hundred meters from the church itself. There are private companies who specialise in that configuration if a rural community wants decent internet and has a tall building they can use.

      Edit: Or what he ^ said. It's been a while since I left rural broadband for good.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: I may be missing something

        @ Mycho: Probably this will involve Satellite uplinks a couple of hundred meters from the church itself.

        We have to hope not. Why introduce significant latency if a conventional SHF link from a nearby location can be engineered? (See Duncan Macdonald's post just before yours.) Admittedly even with > 500 Mb/s capability a lot of simultaneous users in our sample village would result in a reduced bandwidth to each, but using satellite links has to be the last ditch choice.

        Having said that providing a link from another site can only work if that site has spare bandwidth available on its backhaul, and that may or may not be the case.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      Churches do tend to be co-located with churchgoers, i.e. population spots. There are often telecommunications run out to churches, not least as a result of their role in WW2. There is also the possibility of line-of-sight microwave relay between the spires, should cabling not be available. There's also power run out to a church which isn't necessarily the case to these long abandoned rural outposts.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      Allowing for you probably being a townie and not knowing much about that big green place called 'the country' , most churches are in villages, the villages nowadays are populated by green welly wearing city types who want trees outside and a nice view.

      Usually if a church is on it's own surrounded by fields is't not a church but likely an old abbey.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I may be missing something

        "[...] the villages nowadays are populated by green welly wearing city types who want trees outside and a nice view."

        Often their second homes that lie vacant most of the time.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      "But doesn't this require running expensive backhaul from rural church buildings to the main network?"

      Yes, and that could just as easily be run to a cabinet. What's the effective range and bandwidth of a cabinet compared to whatever it it that's running through Hancock's mind?

      "Given that a large part of the Church estate was built to support a massive rural agricultural labour force that has sinced moved to the cities, the majority of the buildings are now probably just sitting on their own in the middle of massive fields and fuck all else."

      You must be joking. The townies are moving out to the country. The farm buildings, barns, pigsties, anything are being converted into housing, the exception being where the outbuildings are being converted to stabling for horses.

    6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I may be missing something

      rural agricultural labour force that has sinced moved to the cities

      but their hovels picturesque cottages have been bought up by aspiring middle class refugees from t'smoke, who demand fast fibre to watch Nigella and upload the script of their latest rural steamy bonkbuster.

  12. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Here in Post Christian Scotland* the tallest steeple hereabouts is currently on the building occupied by the local cheap and cheerful Indian restaurant.

    Also all the steeples hereabouts are down on the flat, there none up here where most of the post war housing is. The one above is hard against the hill too.

    *As told to Billy Graham Jr when he did an evangelist gig in Perth about a decade or so ago. The only people who went were committed Xians. That no, absolutely no churches were built up here postwar tells you all you need to know. An African church, all white vestments on everyone does use our local community hall on a Sunday morning but it is not a church or built as one. There are a lot of ex churches both here and in Dundee proper such is the lack of demand for religion these days.

    1. Mike Brown

      Ive been to that Indian. And ferry nice it was too....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if the kit in the towers needs extra QA to withstand the vibration from peals of bells?

    1. george-the-bells

      Given the way that our tower sways when the bells ring I'm guessing that any microwave links will need frequent realignment. A lot of big chunks of bronze moving around close to the mobile aerial will also produce some interesting reflections and interference.

      More seriously, I ring bells for a couple of hours every week and I'd be a couple of yards from the aerial. My brain's already addled but will the younger ringers need tin hats?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit of careful temporary shielding arranged by the vicar could do wonders for bums on seats at Evensong.

  15. Steve Evans

    Deja vu...

    Wasn't this proposed before... Long ago... And then shot down by the Church when they realised that the internet is full of pr0n?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Deja vu...

      They are probably the best customers.

    2. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: Deja vu...

      Wasn't this proposed before... Long ago... And then shot down by the Church when they realised that the internet is full of pr0n?

      Indeed it was. One example from 2006

      AN application to place a phone mast on a Chingford church spire has been rejected over fears that pornography will be distributed via the network.

      The proposal to build a T-Mobile base station in the spire of SS Peter and Paul Church on The Green was rejected by the Chelmsford Diocese consistory court.

      1. short

        Re: Deja vu...

        Good grief, that's impressively hardline. Is that still the stated policy? Good to see IDS saying that the internet's nothing but filth, too.

      2. NB213

        Re: Deja vu...

        No, the Consistory Court later allowed this application and the 'Chingford case' became the basis for the MOA Code of Practice to which all mobile operators subscribe and which requires 'proof of majority' to enable access to adult sites.

  16. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Local pamphlets

    Google already know what you're thinking, they might as well know you praying as well.

    I see the local pamphlets now: Come to Church: we have the best (and very possibly the only) connection in the village.

  17. David 18
    Coat

    A case of Bits in the Belfry then.

    Gawd that was bad, sorry.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "that was bad"

      Certainly was. Have an upvote.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They'll have to fix the roofs first, everyone knows all church roofs are in disrepair.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What's the point of repairing the roof to a building nobody goes to apart from those over 95.

  19. unwarranted triumphalism

    You never give up with the anti-religious hatred, do you? Is it some kind of obsession for you that you have to spew vitriolic hatred at people of faith at every possible opportunity?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      people of faith

      Well maybe if they actually did things like protect children, were anti guns, paid taxes for non charity church stuff.

      Also if they actually support freedom from religion and not just freedom of religion. May be if they stopped forcing their rules down our throats.

      When it comes down to it there is considerably more hate from people of faith to other people of faith and to people of no faith.

      triumphalism you appear not to realise that hate begets hate.

      1. unwarranted triumphalism

        Re: people of faith

        > if they stopped forcing their rules down our throats

        Except they don't do that.

        I won't bother addressing the rest of your talking points - it seems that you want *them* to live by *your* rules.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: people of faith

          > if they stopped forcing their rules down our throats

          Except they don't do that.

          Oh yes they do! Mandatory religious lessons in school. Being caned because you did pray. Being caned because you ate meal on Friday. etc

  20. huanjo

    Poor heading choice

    I'm not a Christian, but sorry, poor journalism and inappropriate reference to God in the title choice.

    Something more appropriate would be like:

    "UK.gov calls on the House of GOD to boost rural broadband"

    or

    "UK.gov calls on a higher power to boost rural broadband"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor heading choice

      Agree saying "Big Man" is gratuitously ugly.

      Your words could raise a smile, too. In my household, the phrase "a higher power" always meant my mother (particularly when my father spoke those words).

      Though come to think of it, rural broadband rollout would've been a great job for her back when she was something around my present age. Or would've done if broadband had existed back then. A job for a Higher Power with a time machine.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many modern building have cavity walls so you can get away with sneaking a cable or two in between them, but I'm not sure they built many old buildings this way so would be a messy ordeal.

    Might encourage them to go wireless where they could.

    Would a church spire work with the frequencies for mobile and wifi ?

  22. Backhaul

    What Matt Hancock appears to have forgotten is that many of the churches are listed buildings. Slapping 3 sector antennas on to the spire will not go down well with the planning authority or English Heritage, not to mention the Diocese (there are 42 separate Diocese in England & Wales) who effectively act as custodians of the church.

    What also does not help is the operators wanting emergency access to their equipment 24/7 so that they can repair the kit when (not if) it develops a service affecting fault. Got a wedding on the day? Sorry- don't get in the way of our cherry picker or enter the drop zone. Oh, and that tree has to be cut back as its in the way of the antennas.....

    Would it not be easier to build a brand new fit for purpose tower in a corner of a field or use streetworks solutions with ground based cabinets that look like old wooden telegraph posts etc?

  23. NB213

    Really not news at all as Church of England churches have been doing this since 2004!

    There was a National Aerials Agreement in place which laid out the entire schema from planning through to access for ongoing maintenance.

    The overwhelming majority of installations cannot even be seen from the street save, perhaps for a couple of discreet cables as local authority planners get really antsy if sight lines are spoiled.

    Equally, within the Church of England at least, there is the entire 'faculty' process which is the church's own planning system running alongside secular planning rules and actually far more stringent.

    Everyone benefits from this.

    Churches get another income stream

    Coverage is improved

    Mobile operators have accessible sites which are unlikely to be redeveloped.

    As I spent six years heading up the 'aerails' programme within the Church of England I am amazed that this is 'news' once again.

  24. Duncan Robertson

    Wifi/Wireless/Mobile is not the answer!

    Having lived in rural Aberdeenshire during the broadband revolution, I can honestly say that any sort of wireless connectivity is not the answer. Neither is satellite! I campaigned for Broadband 15 years ago here and the Mesh Radio type of setup was the only feasible solution, however still required the expensive Leased Line option for backhaul. Few rural exchanges are enabled for EFM or Leased Lines, from what I gather.

    There are too many factors which affect both the ability to connect and the speed/bandwidth available, where mobile/wireless is concerned. I am not going to list them here, just accept it. However, I can go round a corner in my car and lose all mobile signal for a couple of miles because there's a 3000ft mountain in the way.

    What needs to be done is to address the issue of Exchange Only (EO) lines and also replace the cheap Aluminium lines with copper/fibre. EO lines are a huge problem in Aberdeenshire. Apparently 46% of lines are EO lines, according to Digital Scotland. In my own village the majority of the population are directly connected to the exchange. Now, whilst this is great for stability and also speed (I enjoy 20Mb/s), the limiting factor for me is the upload of 1Mb/s, due to a couple of servers I run.

    So, instead of pursuing ever faster and faster speeds, please OpenReach, concentrate on fibre-ing up the whole country, not just 98% of the population.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Wifi/Wireless/Mobile is not the answer!

      >So, instead of pursuing ever faster and faster speeds, please OpenReach, concentrate on fibre-ing up the whole country, not just 98% of the population.

      Perhaps something Ofcom could do now (ie. something to help users out before FTTP is universally available) is to either regulate 'low end' non-fibre leased line services or encourage enhanced ADSL services, as clearly there is a gap in the market between bulk standard xDSL broadband and leased lines (*1). For example, it shouldn't be that difficult to enable both pairs in a typical telephone line to be used.

      Such an action needs to be initiated by Ofcom, as if BT were to propose such solutions, people would simply claim they were trying to wring more profit out of the POTS network and further delay deploying fibre...

      (*1) Whilst a leased line has differences (advantages/disadvantages) to DSL, A&A are quoting (prior to survey etc., but including VAT) £1800 install and circa £690 pcm for a 30Mbps leased line, compared to £42 pcm for a similar FTTC service (okay capped at 200GB pcm). Hence why I think there is room in the market for an offering in the £80~200 pcm price bracket. Ie. sufficient for SoHo and micro businesses, who don't typically buy leased lines and hence would have little impact on the leased line market.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WiSpire is already available

    I'm reading this article over a wireless broadband connection hosted by my local parish church.

    It is meshed with other church towers to a point were real connections are available.

    Church towers are tall - its common to be able to see several from the top of one.

    It works and it beats the pants of the 3mpbs offered by rebundled OpenReach coverage - I'm 200 yrds from the local exchange but we have no date for an upgrade.

    http://wispire.co.uk/

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