To paraphrase this article, using the mobile (4G) network to bring broadband to rural communities feels like it should be an easier answer than laying miles of cable, but along with the advantages, there are a number of drawbacks. From the Broadbandchoices article:
Pros of 4G over home broadband
- Packages are often far more flexible – 30-day contracts abound that can be cancelled whenever you want.
- Speeds can be pretty darn fast, sometimes faster than home broadband connections.
- A mobile broadband device is portable, so you can take it wherever you take your laptop or tablet.
- It eliminates the need to pay for home broadband, line rental, and a mobile plan – using 4G for your home connection could potentially cut out some bills completely.
Cons of 4G over home broadband
- Mobile broadband, whether from a hotspot or your smartphone, usually has far stricter download limits than even the cheapest of home connections.
- Tethering from a mobile isn’t always possible. Not all smartphones have it as a feature, some networks don’t allow it, and some have narrow download limits for tethering. An unlimited data plan from Three, for instance, has a separate Personal Hotspot allowance of 12GB.
- It’s more expensive than similar home broadband packages… which often give you unlimited downloads, comparable speeds, and extras like internet security or TV.
- It’s less reliable. A lot of things can get in the way of a wireless signal, and if it goes down or starts being slow, there’s very little you can do about it.
- Those fast speeds have also been known to be pretty inconsistent.
- 4G can reach good speeds (40+ Mb), but fixed line broadband can reach much higher ones – up to 1Gb with fibre optic cable.
For those reasons among others, key members of the Rathmell / Wigglesworth group are of the opinion that 4G is unlikely to be the best solution for our villages.
BT Openreach have connected 95% of the UK to fast broadband… but we’re in the remaining 5%. Their Community Fibre Partnership scheme is a way for a community to pay the difference between what BT will invest and what a broadband project actually costs.
If this project came to fruition the properties that it covers should be able to take up products like BT Infinity with typical speeds in the range of 20Mbps-50Mbps . Please note unlike the B4RN option we are investigating this will not by default cover all the community, it would only cover areas (and possibly only properties) where people have expressed an interest.
It should also be noted that this would be a Fibre to the Cabinet/Fibre to the Pole solution and the remainder of the link from the Cabinet/Pole to your house would still run over a copper cable which will still suffer speed degradation as the length of the copper run increases.
To get a costing from Openreach we need to provide a list of all the interested properties, so please Register your Interest.
B4RN started out in villages between Lancaster and Bentham, and have already extended their fibre-optic network as far as Clapham and Keasden to the north of us, and are working on a project to bring Lawkland, Eldroth and Austwick onto the network too.
B4RN succeeds by bringing together their expertise and the efforts of the community and the permission of local landowners to produce a hyperfast connection to every property in the community. Their Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) connection gives both a very fast upload and download speed of 1Gbps (that’s 1000Mbps!) with the possibility of even faster speeds in the future over the same connection.
We are actively pursuing getting an estimate of the investment required for this solution. We need to get as accurate as possible list of properties in the Rathmell and Wigglesworth communities so please use the form to Register your Interest.