Residents in the village of Moulsoe, North Bucks live less than three miles from the centre of Milton Keynes but, as one resident put it, “we might as well be living on the moon” such was the local frustration at the lack of a “fit-for-purpose” broadband provision in the area.
With connection speeds well under 2mbps, most residents were unable to perform even the most basic online tasks like online banking, paying utility bills and shopping. Streaming TV or downloading movies was well out of reach, as well as the regular updates for tablets and personal computers requiring them to drive to other locations to complete these tasks.
The local Parish Council worked tirelessly to come up with various solutions using every avenue at its disposal. It discovered that the situation had been caused by an Openreach oversight which left the surrounding area with only ADSL connections even though their telephone cabinet had been subject to an FTTC upgrade some 2 years ago.
IDNet took interest in the challenge and identified an opportunity to use a water tower as a suitable transmission host for wireless internet.
Through the cooperation and invaluable help of Cranfield University, IDNet were allowed access to their redundant onsite water tower for use as a primary transmitter site for the project. At 30m high it provided the ideal vantage for viable transmissions reaching up to 40km which also covered Moulsoe.
IDNet sourced a dedicated Gigabit fibre feed from a nearby fibre distribution node and mounted a test transmission antenna and hardware on the roof of the tower. This enabled feasibility testing of the equipment including range coverage, bandwidth delivery and tolerance to changing weather conditions.
A variety of receiving equipment was evaluated at the target site to evaluate the most cosmetically acceptable formats whilst making sure that adequate performance and scalability was available. And, at the same time as keeping a close eye on costs. A relay dish was also mounted on an old 7m oak tree stump to conceal it within a wooded copse since this provided a direct line of sight to the transmitter site some 4 km away.
Testing proved successful and in February 2017 IDNet were able to confirm that a robust EtherWifi service was now in place covering the village of Moulsoe and surrounding area. It’s thought that up to 250 rural users could benefit from this one installation.
Here are some comments from local people:
“Amazing, I can now do online banking!”
“I can finally update my Mac!”
“I don’t have to travel to London to do certain tasks”
“So this is how iplayer is supposed to work!”
“We’re subscribing to Netflix this weekend”
“Thank God, my son will finally stop shouting at his Xbox”
EtherWifi is a point-to-point secure radio transmission which, subject to location, can provide synchronous internet speeds of up to 100Mbps. Because its wireless it can relatively quickly and inexpensively be deployed when compared to digging up roads and laying cables. It can be an excellent option for rural communities and people living on the outskirts of towns.
IDNet’s EtherWifi transmitter at Cranfield provides access to a 360 degree transmission sweep across the surrounding area covering Bucks., Bedfordshire, Northants and Herts with potential to extend to Cambridgeshire and further afield so there are sure to be other communities which could potentially benefit.