Author Archives: Ian Mitchell

About Ian Mitchell

Ian Mitchell is a business analyst and software developer. He's been using UML since before it was UML, and has managed teams of BAs all over the place. He also teaches UML and BPMN, and writes the eaDocX document generator for the Sparx EA tool.

More on broadband

The saga continues…

I went along to a session arranged by some part of the Welsh government, or Powys, or Cardiff council (must have nodded-off at that bit), about rural broadband for businesses. They put up someone to do the introduction who clearly needed a course on ‘broadband for beginners’, as most of the audience knew more about the subject than her. Gives us an idea why this is going to be hard.

Learnings from the (2 hour!) session. There weren’t many. Could have all been done in 30 minutes.

  •  there is a ‘voucher’ available for business in Powys, for £3,000 towards getting broadband. See the Cardiff version of the scheme
  • each business can have one voucher, but they can be pooled for a joint scheme – so there is hope!
  • Each business has to apply for the voucher separately – I’ll go first, to scout out the process – then we can collectively get quotes from suppliers to install what we need.

There were a couple of suppliers there of BB services, but neither had any experience of putting BB on overhead cables. We will probably need this, as one had a rough estimate for buried fibre cabling: “about £100 per METER“. You do the sums to figure out what it would cost to bury a cable all the way from Stanton! But at least it rules-out that option.

So, next step is to apply for the Voucher: stay tuned for more…

Broadband – The Challenge

One of the main drawbacks of living where we do is that broadband (BB) connections are expensive and unreliable (satellite BB doesn’t work well in the rain) or slow/non-existent (terrestrial BB).

So getting a BB service into the valley is a key requirement for us to run our lives and businesses. And it would also enable us – via some newly available technology from the mobile companies – to provide a mobile phone service in the valley. This is a critical safety requirement, not just a handy modern annoyance.

The good news is that we’re mostly in Powys, which has a good scheme for rural broadband, and a new local MP who has committed to helping communities like ours get connected.

The bad news is that all the broadband scheme seems to assume that the recipients are individual properties, some distance away from a BT ‘Green Box’.

We’re not like that

The the Grwnye Fawr valley is a distributed ribbon settlement (yes, I was paying attention in O-level Geography). So to get a piece of fibre from the BT Green Box to the last property is around 13-15 km. The £3000 subsidy currently on offer wouldn’t get a fibre more than a tiny fraction of that distance.

But such a cable would pass most of the other houses! So there’s no point each property getting its own piece of fibre all the way to the green box. A better solution would seem to be a single cable with drops for each property. Some are next to the cable part – others are a few 100s of meters from it:

Map of the Grwyne Fawr valley communications links and houses

Map of the Grwyne Fawr valley communications links and houses

So, what’s the solution? Get the CIC to try and arrange a single solution for all the properties in the valley.

But don’t hold your breath: as we don’t fit the pattern which government expects, expect that this will take some time.