Newton on Rawcliffe’s Broadband Story
My name is Billy Garrett and you could say that I am keen on technology interests such as amateur radio (call sign G1WRG) and the Internet, besides being a Trade Sales Manager at quietpc.com, a Parish Councillor and Lay Reader in the Church of England and a member of various other organisations.
So you could say I’m quite busy at times!!
Having spent most of my working life as an engineering training manager in Bradford, I became used over a number of years to using amateur radio and the Internet which had become indispensable.
Before we left Bradford to move to Newton upon Rawcliffe in North Yorkshire, in 2002, I had become accustomed to having superfast 1 Mb from Yorkshire Cable fibre to the Cabinet!
So when we moved in, the first job was to have ADSL enabled on the existing phone line.
BT said it was not possible as the telephone line was not good enough! So I said please install a new line that is good enough!
I think they regretted agreeing to that as it caused a lot of problems with having to dig up the road etc.
However, after a lot of hard work by the dedicated engineers, to whom I’m eternally grateful, they finally achieved a 512kb/s connection for me which was upgraded to a 1Mb business connection sometime later.
Well it turned out that I was the only one in the village with broadband. So I set up a VISP (Virtual Internet Service Provider) company called BeelineBroadband.net to enable me to put pressure on BT to have broadband installed in all of the homes in the village.
Unfortunately, due to the BT costs involved I was only able to achieve this for two locations. So in the end I was inundated with requests to share my own ADSL connection wirelessly using 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi in the village and in the surrounding district.
It was only half a megabit per second to start with, but people were delighted to have it and really appreciated my efforts.
However, there were times when it ran very slow due to the amount of activity and demand so I approached NyNet with a view to obtaining a connection from their newly installed fibre link in Pickering.
They agreed in principle to do this but costs would have been prohibitive and they kindly suggested that I contact Guy Jarvis and the NextGenUs team.
Guy had already been in touch with them with a view to installing a fibre to the home connection for rural areas in North Yorkshire.
In August 2009, the Parish Council and John Marsden, the Chief Exec of NYCC at the time had a key meeting and as a result NYCC provided £30k to assess feasibility of a super-fast broadband solution and to part contribute towards costs – a forerunner of Big Society in a way.
After much deliberation and discussion, the Parish Council asked NextGenUs UK CIC to manage the whole process of design, procurement, build, own, operate on the community’s behalf a high-speed broadband service to replace my wireless service to my existing customers.
The next step was for us to explore the possibility of getting fibre to Newton along the North York Moors Railway but were unable to proceed due to the high wayleave charges sought by NYMR.
We also explored the possibility of using BT poles and ducts to bring the fibre from Pickering. This was making good progress with the BT team until BT top-level management decided that it didn’t approve of our activities and imposed prohibitive costs and conditions which made it impossible to proceed.
The fact that BT had no intention of installing fibre or any kind of high-speed Internet in Newton upon Rawcliffe and Stape in the foreseeable future was neither here nor there.
So the second-best option was to install a temporary high-speed 5 MHz wireless service
Due to the local topology, the service has to be relayed over 4 hops on a 16km journey across the Vale of Pickering before being sent North to the parishes of Newton & Stape in the North York Moors, then distributed wirelessly across a sparsely populated area involving hills, dales and plenty of trees – i.e. very challenging terrain.
To give some idea of the scale, there are approximately 140 homes and farms and I was told that it takes a 42 mile round trip to deliver the parish magazine to each of those homes.
NextGenUs obtained several quotes for a hybrid fibre/wireless FiWi network design interconnecting with a NYNet-supplied internet fibre feed at Lady Lumley School, Pickering.
These quotes ranged between £90k and £250k, so NextGenUs decided to match fund the funding available to the parish council so that the job could proceed.
The network itself was then built in the height of the 2009/2010 winter and went live in February 2010 offering initially low cost symmetrical broadband of 5Mbs and 10Mbps internet access to the local community. This is equivalent to the extremely expensive SDSL as supplied to the big cities such as London and Manchester etc.
NextGenUs, as a community interest company, seeks to maximise the value created for the local community at all times and employs me and my small company, Beeline Broadband to provide first line local support, with NextGenUs managing the administration, billing and overall technical delivery.
One day soon, we hope to supplement the wireless service with fibre to the home (FTTH).
Watch this space!
If you really want it bad enough, YOU can do it too!
Cllr Billy Garrett lives in Newton on Rawcliffe and set-up Beeline Broadband Ltd