I’ve come across some people who live in Wolverton, Warwickshire – a small village up near Warwick and close to Snitterfield and Norton Lindsey.
They have been experiencing internet speeds of ‘up to 1.0Mbps’.
They clubbed together and engaged Sugarnet earlier this year to assess their village with the result that they needed 25 homes to stump up £90 each for installation.
Once installed, one house agreed to host the dish/mast and everyone else in the village (original payment or not) could then join up and get the advantage. Monthly charges thereafter depended on the bandwidth each house required but compatible with BT’s charges.
I suspect that the technology depends on site-line to a mast, so that may be an issue for Draycott, nestled in the hills as we are, but nevertheless worth exploring.
Wolverton is going live in November and my contact has agreed to pass on their experience to me. If it is feasible, then apparently bandwidth is expanded to match the demand, and users can select which level each wishes to subscribe to.
If this is a reliable alternative, then I would be up for an initial charge of around £100 and then happily dump BT. After all, I have no confidence that Draycott will be served by a better service by BT until at least the back end of 2018, if at all. That means 2 more years of frustration.
In a quote from Wolverton’s ‘organiser’ email dated September 2016:
Dear ‘Soon to be Faster Villagers’
Thank you for being one of the 25 households to have committed to Fast Broadband from Sugarnet, that has enabled the installation to go ahead as you know.
Here is the latest update.
- Installing Wireless Fast Broadband
You may remember we reviewed alternative providers and took references from users. That resulted in selecting Sugarnet to provide fast broadband to our 25 properties.
Since then Sugarnet have upgraded their major transmitter on the top of Sunrising Hill, just north of Banbury, to have additional bandwidth and line of sight to Wolverton.
They have done a survey of the village, where the properties concerned are and checked heights of hills around us.
After looking at different sites for a mast and successful negotiations they will very shortly be installing a 3 or 4 meter high mast in xxxx and xxxxx’s garden.
Sugarnet then plan to put aerials on one or two properties to test the overall setup and optimise the communications links before installing aerials on all our 25 properties.
This work is planned to complete in November so please look forward to faster broadband in your home before Christmas.
- What are BT doing?
A few months ago we had a meeting with our MP and he applied pressure on our behalf to BT. That resulted in a flurry of contact and meetings, including with BT Community Fibre Partnership and CSW.
The outcome confirms that BT cannot do an installation part funded by our community and that there will be no fibre coming to Wolverton in 2016 or 2017.
The plan for 2018 is not yet funded or detailed so we just don’t know what they will do and when.
- Area around Wolverton Village
We have recently had strong interest in joining our Sugarnet installation from people the other side of Blacon Farm and from Langley village.
Sugarnet welcome these future additions of course. They have committed to ensure our 25 households are connect before tackling others and they assure us that their network can be easily upgraded to add additional bandwidth and therefore users without slowing down our original 25 households.
It is noteworthy that the Banbury mast is approximately 25 miles from Wolverton. While Draycott is a mere 21 miles from it. Though, it’s site-line rather than distance that will be important.
In an earlier e-mail dated July 2016, at the beginning of their journey:
Dear ‘Soon to be Faster’ Villagers,
Here is the first update on our progress to get faster broadband for the village of Wolverton.
Firstly, thank you for being one of 25 households to have committed to get private broadband from our preferred supplier Sugarnet.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing our list of participants,[I have withheld this list. Ed.] it seems to me that we should know who we all are.
By the way, one village that Sugarnet have successfully installed had quite a few people drop out, lets hope that we Wolvertonians are made of sterner stuff!!
I have email addresses for many but not all, please let me have a missing one or forward this email.
As we have sufficient people, Sugarnet have started their work to deliver fast broadband to us.
They have agreed in principle the location of their local mast and are in the process of signing up their contract with the building/land owner and obtaining the necessary permissions – we should find out exactly where this will be once it is finalised.
Sugarnet then erect their mast and power supply here, they also modify an existing mast to get the signals to the Wolverton mast.
There is then a period of trials and testing plus adjustments to ensure the set up is optimised into the village.
The next step is to set up a receiver on one or two houses in the village followed by more testing, adjusting and optimising.
The final stage is to install the small aerials on each of our 25 properties.
So quite a lot of work to be done and they expect it all to be finished during November this year.
- More on Sugarnet
We have had two references from other villages on the work and service provided by Sugarnet; these were for Claydon and for Little Wolford. Both were very pleased.
During my house to house visits in Wolverton a few questions came up, Sugarnet have provided the answers below in red :-
- What support will Sugarnet provide after initial installation – e.g. if a particular house has router problems after 6 months or if the main local transmitter goes down after 18 months?
The T&C say that upon installation the customer becomes the owner of the equipment. If a unit goes down, then we come and swap it out. We do not charge for replacements, unless it has been willfully damaged.
- How long does each household have to contract for and what is the termination process for a user?
As we would be building this service especially for the village we would expect a 12 month contract. After that it becomes a rolling month to month contract, on 30 days notice.
- Several of our houses have BTSport at the moment and would like faster broadband but dont want to lose access to BT Sport.
So as a result they are saying No. Is there any combination that enables both that you can suggest?
All BT sport uses is an internet connection. It does not matter who supplies your internet connection, but it could be tricky as BT hide their pricing behind added extras like sport etc
- Can you give us the names of a couple of existing customers that we can have a short phone conversation with as a reference please?
I have asked 2 customers from separate legs of the network if they would be happy to speak to you. I selected both as they are essentially your counterparts but in their areas.
Personally, I think Draycott should explore some of these alternatives.
Meanwhile, here’s the Link to Sugarnet. See what you think. If you think this is a possibility, let me know. If you’re talking with friends in the village, and they’re interested, get them to join in and follow this Blog. That will help me understand if there’s any appetite for finding a solution, while also providing a method for updates.