Rattery Parish Plan - Telecommunications & broadband connectivity

December 2016

The Parish Plan Steering Group is very pleased that residents of the parish will have a choice of fast broadband providers.  This has been achieved by a lot of investigation, analysis, research and negotiation, done over several months, by the Broadband Working Group under the leadership of Nigel King, to whom we are all extremely grateful.

Now that we know that Airband are committed to providing a service for the parish we can summarise the situation as we see it.

In addition to the existing copper wire Openreach/BT system two other technologies will be available. In most of the parish, therefore, you can choose which system to use for broadband. The websites will enable you to compare the different pricing structures.

The Parish Plan Steering Group cannot advise individuals about the merits or otherwise of particular companies and the choice of provider is one for individual customers to make.

These notes are meant to advise you of what is available and to summarise the characteristics of each system.

The existing Openreach system, because it is based on copper wire, cannot provide fast broadband speeds.
BT has however suggested that it might bring a fibre cable along the duct from Buckfastleigh to the cabinet at Almshouse Cross. BT has pushed the proposed date for this installation back in time and at the moment we do not know definitely if or when it  happen. If it were to happen, then households in the immediate vicinity of Almshouse Cross would be able to access fast broadband via the Openreach network.

The other broadband technologies available in Rattery are fixed wireless and 4G.

The fixed wireless provider will be AIRBAND.

Airband uses fixed wireless microwave technology and provides broadband through line of sight to a transmitter using radio waves and eliminates the need to use phone or cable lines. Please see the explanatory animation:

Fixed wireless is the broadband of choice in, many countries including South Africa (where Airband has a sister company), Italy, America, Australia and many others.

The technology is robust and is not affected by the weather because the signal only covers very short distances. In Devon, Airband transmitters are never more that 5Km from each other and customers.

A number of transmitters will be installed by Airband to give good coverage across the parish and the voucher scheme will cover the costs of the installation of an external antenna and internal router for each property. Depending on how far you are from the transmitter you will need a dish or a box antenna.

Dish antenna
Small antenna
 Airband are currently undergoing the final negotiations to site their transmitters and are confident that the infrastructure will be in place for customers have their installation completed well before the March 2017 deadline for the current CDS voucher scheme.

Airband install the equipment and provide the broadband service so your on-going contract would be with them. Details are on their website (see above).

Fixed wireless has high or unlimited data caps enabling the consumer more or less “free” usage within the contract price.

4G technology is offered by four companies listed on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website under their voucher scheme.

Exmoor technology
South West Mobile Broadband
Teletech Services
Westcountry Broadband

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.

EE 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. Two companies (the first two listed above) have conducted preliminary surveys which show good coverage over most of the parish but with weak or non-existent 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.

Under the voucher scheme you choose a company to install the equipment (a suitable outside antenna and an indoors 4G router) to receive a 4G signal but your ongoing contract would be with EE who offer various contract options plus occasional special offers.

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, avoiding automatic cloud photo backups and so on. Some users opt to maintain their phone line broadband service and use this for overnight cloud uploads. See website 

VOIP is possible with both fast broadband options.

With both of these systems, when considering the costs of switching, you could consider saving money by running your telephone line through your broadband. This is called VOIP technology (Voice Over Internet Protocol).

The savings can be quite significant and by combining VOIP with fixed wireless or 4G  fast broadband you would probably end up paying less than your current contract with BT or other providers using the Openreach network.
You can find out more about VOIP on the following links.  
Money Supermarket.com

The installing companies can provide more information and suitable options for each property.

The Parish Plan Telecommunications and Broadband Working Party is currently researching VOIP providers and will publish its findings shortly.

Rattery Parish Plan Broadband Group

Download additional information - click on arrow
Fast Broadband for Rattery