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Advisory Group - Business and Telecommunications



Devon County Council is looking for micro businesses, sole-traders and freelancers! 

Devon County Council has launched a new trial looking at how to better support rural micro businesses in Devon. If you run a micro business in a rural area, help to shape the future of business support by joining their Engaging Rural Micros research trial.  Businesses can sign-up until the end of December 2019 at www.engagingruralmicros.com 


Update 12.10.19 from Rob Hatt

Openreach have today advised us that the long anticipated connection to the super fast fibre network has been switched on.  This means that properties on the Buckfastleigh exchange which are “in scope” will be able to place orders with their chosen supplier.  To see whether your property is included at this stage, please follow the link: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband and enter your postcode to access a drop down list of properties.  Once you’ve selected an address, a page will open showing a list of the available service providers and providing information about what to do next.  

Openreach do explain that as they still have some minor work to carry out in order to complete the project, some properties will have to wait a little longer; if this is the case for your property the following message should appear: 

" Good news – we’ll be upgrading your area to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) soon.”

We’re assured that it's the intention that all outstanding work will be completed as soon as possible but the Parish Council will continue to monitor progress, providing updated information as it becomes available.

As previously mentioned, unfortunately at this stage properties linked to the South Brent exchange (mainly properties in Culver Lane between the A385 and Dry Bridge and properties along the line of the A385 as far as Marley Head) have not been included in Openreach’s upgrade project.  Finding a solution remains a high priority for the Parish Council and we will continue to work closely with Openreach with the intention of persuading them to extend the fibre network to include the remaining parts of the Parish.


Voice over Internet Protocol

With the prospect of more people soon being able to access faster broadband connections, it might be a good time to mention VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. In simple terms, VoIP refers to making phone calls through the internet, rather than through a regular landline or a mobile network.

A VoIP system works by taking your analogue voice signals, converting them into digital signals, then sending them as data over your broadband line. It's a very useful way of making calls - for a start, once it's set up it's a lot cheaper than using normal phone lines. It means that, depending on your setup, you may not have to pay for your phone calls based on distance, which country you're calling, or how much time you spend chatting.
Your VoIP system could be:

  • With a phone and a VoIP adapter - Using a special adapter, you can make VoIP calls from a regular old landline phone. These adapters plug into either a phone socket in the wall or into your router.
  • With a computer - There are dozens of programs that let you make voice calls to anyone who also has it installed, including Skype, Google Talk, and Apple FaceTime. Some, such as Skype, can be used to call regular landline or mobile numbers too. Calling someone else who has the app is free but calling an actual phone number will usually cost a little. Some broadband and home hone providers offer VoIP as part of their services, so they may do things a little differently. It's the standard form of phone line from a number of FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) providers, for example, and VoIP is available as part of almost any business broadband or phone package. Either way, your provider will give you all the information you need.

The exact equipment you need depends on which method of VoIP you're using. The first thing you'll need is a broadband connection, preferably an unlimited one so you can talk as much as you need to. 

  • For VoIP with an adapter, you'll need… a VoIP adapter, and a compatible phone. If it plugs into a router, you'll need a compatible router too.
  • For VoIP with a computer, you'll need… a laptop or desktop computer with an internet connection, the right software, and either a headset or speakers and a microphone. Headsets are better for clarity and sound quality and have the added bonus of sparing everyone around you from hearing your whole conversation, but you can get by just fine without.
  • For VoIP with a smartphone, you'll need… a smartphone, connected to Wi-Fi and with your chosen app installed. As with all technology, there are inevitable pros and cons to consider.

Pros: The main advantage of using a VoIP service is that it can be a lot cheaper than regular landlines, especially for calling overseas. With certain setups, in fact - like using FaceTime - it's completely free.
It can also give you much clearer sound, especially on a high-speed fibre optic line. And, if a number of people in your household or office need to make calls at the same time, it's a better option than the cost of installing multiple phone lines.

Cons:  On the other hand, your call quality on VoIP will be affected by the state of your broadband line - slow internet can mean poor phone calls.  And VoIP won’t be available during power cuts, so its worth retaining an alternative means of making calls.
For further information a quick Google search will allow you to access a large number of sites providing advice and supplier contacts including those specifically covering the Devon and Cornwall area. 


Update Monday 19 November 2018
Gigaclear plc, who had planned to connect Rattery to their full fibre network by the end of the current financial year, have recently issued a statement explaining that their programme has suffered a severe delay - at this stage it is not clear when work is likely to be undertaken.  Connecting Devon and Somerset (the local authority led partnership that is responsible for overseeing the Government’s investment in fibre broadband) have confirmed that “all options are currently under review and there is a commitment to reaching a decision as quickly as possible”.  They have pledged to keep communities informed of any decisions through their elected representatives as well as publishing updates on the CDS website and social media.
Go to website for more information

FAST BROADBAND FOR RATTERY - Updated April 2018

Since its establishment last summer, the Parish Council’s Business and Telecommunications Advisory Group has continued to investigate the possibility of obtaining improved Broadband services for the whole of Rattery Parish.  A meeting in late 2017 with Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), the organisation set up to deliver next generation broadband infrastructure to areas where the market has failed to invest, provided further information about implementation plans, which are summarised below:

The existing BT / Open Reach system

Because it is based on copper wire, the current BT/OpenReach system cannot provide fast broadband speeds.  At one point it was thought that BT might be prepared to bring a fibre cable to the cabinet at Almshouse Cross, utilising the underground ducting that already exists.  If that were to happen then households in the immediate vicinity would be able to access fast broadband via the Open Reach network.  But it has emerged more recently that this will only be possible if a substantial financial contribution is made by the community.  Given the limited scope of such a solution this is not something that is currently being actively pursued.

Fixed Wireless Internet

Fixed wireless is the broadband of choice in a number of countries including South Africa, Italy, America, Australia and many others.  The technology is generally robust and is not affected by the weather because the signal only covers very short distances.  Fixed wireless provider Airband Community Internet Ltd. have erected two masts in the Parish (one on Culver Lane, the other close to Willing Cross) and to date approximately 30 premises in the Parish have subscribed to this service.  It should be noted that a number of early teething problems were reported, most believed to be the result of power supply issues which Airband claim to have resolved with the installation of additional equipment.  It is hoped that the service will now be more reliable, but please continue to report outages if these occur.

Premises that are within “line of sight” of one of the two transmitters are expected to obtain high speed broadband of at least 20Mbs. To establish whether you can obtain this service, log on to Airband’s website (www.airband.co.uk) and enter your address in the checker.  The website contains information about the services that are available, including a video that demonstrates how it works.

4G cellular network

4G is a relatively easy way of quickly gaining a faster internet connection. It works by using the well-established 4G mobile phone network to access broadband services.  4G technology is offered by four companies listed on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website.  EE seem to provide the best 4G coverage in this area and as the majority of EE 4G masts are by the main A roads, the infrastructure is already there.  The Vodafone network has recently been upgraded and may provide an alternative to EE.

These two companies have conducted preliminary surveys which show good coverage over most of the parish but with weak reception in the low-lying part of the village centre. If you are considering this system then companies will conduct an individual survey before you agree to installation.

Its worth noting that no 4G network offers an unlimited data option making usage potentially much more expensive than indicated by the advertised monthly figures. With any capped service such as 4G, care needs to be taken to avoid accidental data usage, such as switching iPlayer to standard definition rather than HD and avoiding automatic cloud photo backups. You could start on a 30 day flexible contract to establish data usage and then upgrade to a 12 month contract. Some users opt to maintain their phone line broadband service and use this for overnight cloud uploads.

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

Once available this technology potentially offers the fastest broadband option, with speeds of 50Mbps – 1Gbps promised.  CDS have recently awarded a contract to Gigaclear Ltd to deliver ultrafast fibre broadband as part of their programme and have confirmed that Rattery is included within the “South Moor” Lot 6 of the implementation programme which is scheduled for delivery in 2019.  Gigaclear’s website () includes the means to check whether your address is included within their rollout plans, and if so provides the chance to register your interest in order to receive updates on progress.   We’d recommend as many people as possible in the Parish to register their interest at this stage as this should reassure Gigaclear that there is likely to be demand for their service once it becomes available. 

Although yet to be launched, we understand that CDS is developing a new voucher scheme which will be designed to help towards the cost of connection to the new service for the owners of eligible properties.  In addition, the Government has recently announced its Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to assist small businesses and surrounding local communities to gain access to gigabit capable connections.  Further details of both schemes will be shared once this become available.

It is clear that the position is continuing to evolve as further funding streams become available.  In the circumstances the Advisory Group would urge you to revisit this page from time to time as it will be updated to reflect latest available information.

April 2018

Rattery Parish Council - Business and Telecommunications Advisory Group

Aims:

  1. To advise the Parish Council on the delivery of the relevant sections of the Parish Plan and monitor delivery of the Parish Plan priorities
  2. To gather information and provide advice to the Parish Council on matters relating to the business community within the parish and to matters concerning the provision of efficient and effective Broadband and mobile telephony services;
  3. To offer an interface between parishioners (including the business community) and the Parish Council on matters relating to business and telecommunications services;

Objectives:

  1. Consult with parishioners on matters relating to business and telecommunications;
  2. Carry out research as above;
  3. Liaise with outside bodies;
  4. Monitor and report on progress with the Parish Plan;
  5. Make recommendations to the Parish Council;
  6. Organise community action (as agreed by the Parish Council);

Membership:

Membership will be open to interested parties, including businesses operating in the parish.  The Council will nominate a serving Parish Councillor to provide the formal link between the Advisory Group and the Council.  Representative(s) of outside bodies will be invited to attend meetings at the Chairman’s discretion.

Initial membership of the Advisory Group is as follows:

Michael Jack CBE (chair)
Cllr Rob Hatt
Mr Nigel King
Mrs Debby Charman
Mr Chris Charman
Mr Will Edwards
Ms Elaine Leach
Mr Ian Samuel

January 2018

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